You’ve been working hard on winterizing your garden! Are you tired? I am. Winterizing your garden is one of the hardest chores on our homestead. Now that we’ve gotten old plants out and tilled up roots and weeds, there’s only one step left…cover crop.
A cover crop is an excellent source for winterizing your garden!
What is a cover crop? A cover crop is simply a crop you grow in the winter to cover your soil. But you don’t want to just plant anything. You need to plant a crop that covers your garden and will put nutrients back into the soil. A lot of the blogs I’ve read through the years say to plant ryegrass.
Ryegrass is an excellent cover crop. It is rich in nutrients and color. Its roots also penetrate the soil to help break it down even further. From what research we’ve done, this is the cover crop of choice up north.
When I asked local farmers, they don’t use rye grass. Some plant a grass that is conducive for cows or horses to graze on, others plant turnips as their roots break down the soil well and their greens are great to eat. Yet other farmers don’t plant any kind of cover crop and simply put hay across their gardens.
Hay is also an excellent source for winterizing your garden!
This dried grass works as a protective barrier keeping the ground moist and the soil protected through winter. It is easy because you can also till it back in before spring, and it adds more organic matter to your garden. Other people use hay for weed control, so you can decide which option works best for you.
Last year, we planted ryegrass, and it grew fast. Our garden was beautiful to look at during the winter months. But it seems our weeds were heavier this year. It’s a bit hard to know if the weeds were due to our cover crop or just the fact that we didn’t have as much time dedicated to weeding.
A lot of homesteaders down south, don’t mess with a cover crop and go straight to hay. It’s easier keeps your garden all winter, with virtually no maintenance. Whatever you decide, your garden will thank you for it and pay you back in the spring!
~Until next time,
Question: Will you opt for a cover crop or simply put hay atop your garden this winter?