Cover crops for the garden
Q: Last fall I planted oats as a cover crop in my small vegetable garden. They came up quickly, and have been a nice green cover this winter. How should I best remove them in the spring?
A: You can use a mower or string trimmer to chop down the oats a couple of weeks before spring planting. When the stems are dry the plants can be tilled into the soil. Winter cover crops are sometimes called “green manure” because they benefit spring crops so much. They prevent erosion, provide soil nutrients and may attract pollinators. The best cover crops are a combination of a cereal grain and a legume. Typical are wheat, oat, or rye with clover or winter peas. Different plants are used for cover crops in the summer.