Well guys, it’s Fall again, and you know what that means (unless you live in a sun-belt state like Florida or Arizona). Fall means cooler temperatures, especially at night. Here in Colorado we’ve already have several nights where temps dipped below freezing, although many of the days have been in the warm 70s and 80s.
The advent of Fall also means it’s the time of the year for those Fall cover crops that add vital organic matter and nutrients to the soil, while at the same time keeping the nutrients that are already there from leeching away during the Winter months. One of the best crops for this type of cover gardening is cereal rye, which is also referred to as winter rye for this very reason.
The cover crops work hand-in-hand with your compost bed, in a rotating cycle throughout the year. When your summer garden crops are finished for the season, save all the remains, including garden residue and weeds, and add them to your compost bed. Then in the Fall, the finished compost from the previous season is taken and spread over your garden bed before you plant your cover crops.
Then the remains of your cover crop will be added to your compost bed in the Spring, and the cycle continues from season to season. A good crop to plant after the compost has been removed is rye, which is great at absorbing stray nutrients that have been left in the soil, then plant corn after the rye.
If you’ve never planted a cover crop you’ll be amazed at the results. It allows you to have a low-maintenance garden during the Winter that’s working to replenish your soil, and lock in vital nutrients that will supercharge your vegetable garden come Spring.