Hi, This is Justin at the Red Bird Mission Grow Appalachia. This year has been a rough year for ours gardens and our farmers with the challenges of keeping our crops weeded so they can grow and ditching around gardens to keep out water after the heavy rain and storms. Even with all of that we all have came out with enough to can and freeze to provide for our families and enough to sell at our farmers market.
Its fall time now and its time to clear the gardens and plant some cover crops (green manure) to help our gardens be more productive next year. Cover crops are probably the hardest working crops we plant they suppress weeds, build productive soil, and help control pests and diseases. They are easy to plant and you don’t have to do much to take care of them. To plant them all you really need to do is clear your garden, break up the top soil, sow the seed and rake it in. You’ll need to do this before the danger of frost so the seeds can set in.
There are different types of cover crops some require maintenance and some not, but your oats and grasses you’ll need to mow or trim them down before they come out to seed. so when gardening time comes you’ll have to kill the crop, which most will die through winter, and let it sit till the stems and things dry and turn brown to make it easier to till into the ground. After you turn it in you’ll have to wait 2 to 3 weeks before you plant, the decomposing can tie up soil nitrogen. Different cover crops help with different things, winter peas (legume) fix nitrogen in the soil and grains (oats) put a lot of organic mater in the ground.