Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Green Manure

"Green manuring" is the process of growing cover crops, and plowing them under to add nutrients and tilth to the soil. I don't have to plant cover crops, because the weeds automatically provide that service for me. (A single grass plant can produce hundreds -- and in some cases thousands -- of seeds.)

This is a view of my garden from the Ark. The left third will be this winter's garden (lettuce, spinach, beets, kale, chard, collards, etc.). The middle third, now fallow, will be next summer's garden. The right third is this summer's garden, to be fallow next year. The left third has an amazing amount of arugula, which went to seed this spring and scattered far and wide when I tilled it under. The middle third is mostly grass, with a lot of squash in the foreground.

Here's the "after" picture. The left third tilled pretty well, but the middle third will have to be retilled after the garden dries out a little. (The weather forecast is no rain, and temperatures in the low 100s, so it won't take long.) The grass and squash were too tall, and the soil was too wet for effective tilling. Next cycle I'll till it when the grass is no more than a foot tall. (It was about 2 feet tall this time.)