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Cover Cropping Over Winter

Hi there!

The college I go to here in Maine offers the students garden beds each year and fortunately I was able to plant in one this year! I am allowed to grow over winter in this bed, so I am constructing a hoop house. This growing season I noticed there was not a lot of fertility in the soil, and I've been learning about green manure and cover cropping, and how they really help with adding organic matter and fertility to the soil. With this hoop house I would like to plant a winter hardy cover crop to grow until mature and then cut down and use as mulch for my vegetables in the spring.

Is this a realistic idea? I figured maybe I could get two rotations/life cycles of a cover crop by spring and start building my soil as soon as possible. Also, any ideas for a good cover crop that provides phosphorus, nitrogen and does not get too tall? My hoop how will probably only leave two or three feet for plants to grow.

I am very new to cover cropping so I could use any advice you have to offer, especially regarding my situation! Thanks :()

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2661
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 2:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

I'm probably going to sound like Debbie Downer; After a long residence in central NH, I think you may well be too late to get much to grow in the way of a cover-crop in ME, in December. Try rye or annual rye, but even it may not get growing dependably.

But yes as soon as you can clear a bed in August or September, replant with a rye or clover. This presumes a
bit of over-achiever behavior. And a willingness to turn cover crops over by spade, disc, or rototiller.

Um I never had much luck in getting a spring time cover crop in and growing. I was always on my beds with a thermometer and angling to get a cold crop of lettuce cabbage or other brassica into dirt.

I like (ok love) hothouses, cold frames, hoop houses. They ultimately become the growing space for tender plants. And the colder the zone was, the more I liked them. Elliot Coleman built off of the Nearings earlier work with them. He is published. Check out & read his stuff.

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