Brooksfield’s garden project is off to a strong start. The two raised
beds where we’ll plant vegetables and perennials require some soil
amendment, and Fall is the ideal time to get started. By preparing the
soil in the Fall, we’ll ensure that the garden is ready when the first
warm days lure us outside.
One method for restoring nutrients to soil is to plant a cover crop,
or green manure. A green manure is an organic method for improving
soil fertility. It’s “green” because it begins with a plant, rather
than an animal. A green manure is particularly useful in preventing
soil erosion and compaction. It also restores nitrogen to soil where
plants with high nutrient needs were previously growing.
To prepare the bed for a cover crop, or green manure, till under
summer plant waste and rake the soil to remove clumps. A cover crop
can be planted as early as August, or as last as November. There are
several types of cover crops to choose from. At Brooksfield, we used
winter rye, since it can be planted late in the season, is cold-hardy,
and grows in just about any type of soil conditions. We will turn it
under about a month before Spring planting. The green matter
decomposes quickly, transforming the soil into a healthy loam.