Boise Cover Crops

gaia_girl(z 6 SW ID)July 16, 2008

Hi There!

I am new to Boise and will be moving into a new home which already has a few raised beds in it! Great, but these beds have been sitting fallow with no amendments for I don't know how long.

I want to plant a fall crop, Brassicas and the like, beans, peas, amending the soil first with compost. After this, I'd like to plant cover crops to add nutrients and prevent soil/water erosion over the wintertime. Any suggestions for cover crops? Perennial vs. annual? Winterkill vs. not?

thanks for the help!

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david52 Zone 6

After you've harvested your fall crop, nothing much is going to grow over the winter - I'd just dump a whole buncha leaves / clippings and what not as a mulch over the winter.

I'm not familiar with anything that grows in the winter, zone 5, that would amount to much of a cover crop. Stuff stays green, like cilantro, but it isn't growing.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 10:28AM
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I undersowed my corn with buckwheat. I'll be planting buckwheat in any spot in the garden that goes bare. It's my understanding that the soil should not be left exposed. Compost, straw, or green manure should always be used.

I just mulched all my berry beds with spruce needles and the soil underneath is much moister.

I'll be ordering a mix for green manures for fallow garden spots; field peas, alfalfa, rye or similar. I'll be making more bed toward the end of summer and preparing them for a spring garden.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 12:12AM
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gaia_girl(z 6 SW ID)

idaho gardener-

I was thinking of planting buckwheat or oats in all the garden spaces that will be fallow. Do you allow these green manures to winterkill, then mulch them over with compost or leaves, then turning everything under in spring a few weeks before planting?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 3:49PM
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gaia_girl, Yes, that is my understanding of how to do it; plant the buckwheat, rye, or other winterkill cover crop and then turn it under.

I have a booklet from Johny's Seeds about cover crops. I'll re-read it to see if there's any other recommendations.

- Paul

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 6:08PM
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Call me at four four zero one zero six four and I'll give you my address. I bought a 25 pound sack of buckwheat so I can spare a few pounds, and I made a copy of the green manures pamphlet for you.

You can get a peek at my little corn patch with the buckwheat growing under it.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 6:41PM
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Gaia_girl, if you plant Winter rye (cereal rye NOT ryegrass) sometime during the next few weeks, the plants will be waist-high by Spring.

Having a couple months for a good start this year will make an amazing difference. You can also plant rye seed in September but don't expect that you'll have much by the time you'd like to till your Spring garden.

It is a little difficult to kill rye when it simply tilled in. Pulling tall plants isn't really very difficult. They then can be either buried in the bed or composted.

I realize this doesn't fit with your ideas for Fall veggie crops but just thought that you may like to consider it.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 12:39AM
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