The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

August is the time for oats

Cover cropsHere in zone 6, August is a critical time for cover crops.  Earlier in the year, I dabbled in soil improvement by planting buckwheat (and some sunflowers) into garden gaps.  But August is the month to plant oats and oilseed radishes for long-term soil improvement that will keep growing throughout late summer, fall, and early winter.

As a result, my big goal for August is to make a pass through the entire garden, not just weeding, but also seeding oats in any beds that have finished up their spring or summer crops and won't be needed during the fall and winter.  This job also takes those beds off my weeding plate until spring, which is always a great feeling during the busy summer months.

New garden bed
While I'm at it, I do a bit of terraforming.  This corner of the front garden has been designated excess space, and I plan to turn at least one row of it into high-density apples.  However, the beds in this area were laid out when I was very new to gardening, so the aisles are too narrow for even annual vegetable gardening.  They definitely won't provide space for our apple trees to grow.

The solution was to turn two long rows into one, laying down cardboard over the grassy aisle between them then shoveling the good topsoil from one bed over to widen the second bed.  Finally, I sprinkled oat seeds on top of both the bare soil in the new aisle and the new half of the old bed.  I'm sure our young apples will enjoy the enriched soil when they move in this coming winter or spring.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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