Dateline: 5 September 21016 AD
My approach to gardening has changed quite a bit in the 40+ years that I've pursued the craft. At one time, I rototilled the whole garden every year.
In those days I would broadcast winter rye over the garden as a green manure cover crop every fall, and till it into the soil in the spring. The roots and top growth of the rye added a lot of organic matter to my soil. It was good for the tilth.
But when I started using raised beds in my garden, I stopped planting the green manure (and my tiller is rarely used any more). I relied on just compost to get organic matter into my soil.
Now, I've come to the realization that my garden soil was far better off when I utilized a green manure. I can't make enough compost to take the place of a green manure. And it's just not the same.
So, I'm returning to a gardening practice that I never should have left. And I'm returning with the desire to utilize some green manures that I've never used before. For example, in the picture above you can see the bed where I grew onions this past year. It is now planted to oats. Here's a more recent picture of the same bed...
It's fun to watch the oats grow. As I understand it, they will die down over the winter, but they will serve to cover the soil, and the roots will add plenty of organic matter. In the spring, I'll rake the dead top growth and plant the bed.
I'll have more to say about green manures in the days ahead.