Photo by Jessica Walliser
I filled the back of my Subaru with the free leaf compost that our municipality gives away.
Decision made. I am not going to plant a cover crop in the vegetable garden this year. Itâ€™s a stretch for me as I have done it for many years, but a few seasons ago I adopted theÂ no-till method of gardening and have fallen in love with it. I find itâ€™s hard to handle cover crops if you canâ€™t till them come spring.
Two years ago, I planted winter rye, cut it down in the spring and covered it with several inches of old horse manure. It didnâ€™t work nearly as well as tilling it under, and I had to battle rye springing up in the garden all summer long. Planting seeds in the stubble was a big pain, too.Â
I still believe that cover crops are so very good for the soil, but I canâ€™t seem to manage them right with the no-till methods Iâ€™m using.Â So I had to make a choice.
What I will do, however, is start stacking up the organic matter this fall. Typically, Iâ€™ve done this in the spring; spreading out layers of newspaper topped with organic matter, then planting right through it.Â Works like a charm but itâ€™s a whole bunch of work every spring.Â
So, this year, Iâ€™m going to mix it up. After every plant has been pulled or harvested, Iâ€™m going to do the newspaper and compost/aged manure trick then just let it sit there all winter. What this ideally will mean is I will be completely ready to plant come springâ€”no need to â€śwait until the soil can be workedâ€ť to plant my radishes, peas and lettuce. I can do it when Iâ€™m ready instead of when the weather is. I think first, though, Iâ€™d better fill up the tire on the wheel barrow.Â Â