Cover crop

Seeded Crop Circle garden with cover crop

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of crop circle garden
Photo of sweet meat squash in Crop Circle garden

This year, I decided to try a different cover crop in the Crop Circle garden. In past years, I have used Territorial Seed's Polar Triticale (which I am absolutely in love with) and also their Oats cover crop (which I wasn't particularly fond of).

This year, I'm going with Territorial Seed's Berseem Clover cover crop. Stay tuned to this website between now and Spring and I'll keep you updated!

Oats as a cover crop

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of oats as  a cover crop

I'm now on year three of "no-till gardening," meaning that I am using cover crops and other techniques to keep my garden soil healthy and my beds weed-free.

This time around, I planted oats as a cover crop. The oats were planted at the end of last season's harvest and had time to grow about a foot high before the winter cold set in. When I purchased the oat seed, the catalog said they would winter kill, but I had no idea they would die out so thoroughly! All my previous cover crops survived the winter - some better than others - but as you can see in the photo, the oats did not.

Cover crop in Crop Circle

Submitted by jimwcoleman
The Crop Circle garden with Polar Triticale cover crop

This is the way the Crop Circle garden looks today ... on a marvelously bright and warm day in the Seattle area ... quite an unexpected surprise!

The Crop Circle was seeded last fall with Polar Triticale, a crop circle variety then offered by Territorial Seed. I have looked twice lately and no longer see this variety listed, so I purchased oats for the coming season. In fact, I seeded oats into part of the main garden earlier today, just to get some growth before Spring.

Polar Triticale cover crop

Submitted by jimwcoleman

The past two years, I have used Polar Triticale as a successful cover crop in the gardens. I was amused to see that this year, one has gone to seed. Reminds me of the wheat fields I used to play in as a kid ... :)

For those who may be wondering, polar triticale is closely related to quadro-triticale but is different enough that Tribbles find it unappetizing and tend to leave it alone, in all but the most extreme circumstances. That is yet another reason why it tends to be a good choice as a cover crop, for those in areas were tribble infestations can be problematic.

Turning in cover crop

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Turning over cover crop

In the main garden, work continues to turn the cover crop under, one shovel-full at a time. This is my first time to overwinter the garden with a cover crop. I chose Polar Triticale and I have been very pleased with it. Instead of rototilling, I will turn the cover over so that the soil can enrich itself by reclaiming the cover crop. I'm about six weeks out from putting the first of the vegetable plants into the soil, but I do have yellow snap peas growing in this garden already. :)

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