Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Garden Cover Crops

Hi friends! Chief gardener John here. It's the time of year when we do a final clean up of the garden. This generally involves trying to remove weeds and other plant refuse and plant a cover crop.  We're a big fan of using winter covers to suppress early spring weeds, reduce erosion and improve soil health.

If it's dry enough I'll do a light tilling and plant a winter cover crop. If the ground is wet I might scratch up the ground with a disc, spread the seeds and use a hand rake to work in.

There are many varieties of cover crops, each with different uses depending on the needs of your soil. This year I planted winter rye in both the small kitchen garden and in the large back garden. By the end of November a general cover is established, and next spring the rye will cover the garden. Be aware that rye can begin to form seeds heads quickly in the spring. Keep an eye out and be sure to terminate before heads form. Most experts suggest that, in order to preserve the soil structure, soil should not be tilled. As you can see, we're still trying to implement that technique.

Goodnight and sweet dreams until next year garden, thanks for all your hard work!

Rye seeds

Rye seeds spread on soil.

Rye sprouting after one week.
High tech seed spreader.  I can spread seeds over the garden plot in picture below
 in about 15 minutes.  As long as the seeds have good soil contact
they will sprout without working in.  
Large garden plot.

Spreading seeds with little hand cranked spreader.

Rye  from May of 2014 planted Fall of 2013.
I usually leave a little rye to grow this tall and
then cut it down with a hoe and let dry and
place between veggie rows as mulch. 
How do you prepare your garden for the winter? 

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