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

Winterkill of cover crops in zone 6

Oat cover crop is mostly winterkilled by end of JanuaryWhen I summed up 2010's no-till cover crop experiments, the only question left was how various crops would winterkill here in southwest Virginia.  Now that the traditional coldest month of the year is just about over (and the garden is finally free of a coat of snow), I went out to check on the state of the cover crops.  For those of you who haven't been following along, I was looking for the opposite of what gardeners usually aim for --- dead plants so that I won't have to till them in.  Here's what I saw:

Oilseed radish winterkills and starts to decompose

Based on this winterkill data, I've got some changes to make for next year.  I think I'm going to delete ryegrass from my winter cover crop rotation, plant barley and crimson clover in the shady part of the garden where I don't start vegetables until May and could allow the cover crops to mature in the spring, plant oats where I want a mulch the next summer, and plant oilseed radishes where I want to direct-seed early spring crops.  It's great to finally be wrapping my head around the niche of each cover crop.

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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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