Trying out cover crops

Up until last year, I’d never even heard of cover crops being used to amend soil issues. One issue that I have that I’ve mentioned before is that my soil is pretty heavy, dense clay. When I dug up a new area last year, I decided to sow some barley in it to get it ready for planting the following spring.

Barley is helpful with breaking up compacted soil. It’s a winter kill crop, which means that it dies out over the winter and provides a layer of mulch in the garden. I threw some chopped leaves on top of it when we covered the other beds, too.

This bed also got a thin layer of horse manure, compliments of my adventures last weekend. My intent is to work the soil in half of it, and plant right through all of the layers in the other half. I’d like to compare the two methods and see which one produces healthier plants.

When we dug up the two other beds later in the fall, I did kind of a silly thing and didn’t even up the edge of one of them with the existing gardens. I don’t know what exactly I was thinking, but I realized this spring that it looked kind of stupid that way.

So, I broke the remaining three feet of sod. Unfortunately, that section didn’t spend the winter cozied up under a bed of leaf mulch, so I wont’ be planting anything edible there. However, I did purchase some Idagold Mustard from Johnny’s Seeds, and sowed it as a cover crop.

It’s germinating really well! Check out this great post on Chiot’s Run about the benefits of using mustard as a cover crop.



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