Friday, September 17, 2010

Plant-a-Row-for-the-Hungry Update

At the Plant-a-Row-for-the-Hungry (PAR) garden, we are hoping to plant a winter cover crop this year. We've chosen Austrian winter peas, because a local, long-time gardening friend (Jack H.) recommended them.

I have grown vetch as a cover crop in my own garden before. Getting it turned under in the spring was amazingly difficult, and it was also difficult to pull the chickweed that came up with it. A lot of the chickweed re-seeded in those beds, which caused a bit of a problem the following winter.

Our Fearless Leader has grown winter rye as a cover crop, and she said that it was hard to turn under in spring, too.

We are both hoping that Jack, who grows these Austrian peas in winter, is right about how much easier they are to till back into the soil in spring.

In order to get the peas planted early enough to get established before the first frost, we will have to remove the other crops currently in the garden. Next week, we will pull out the peppers, tomatoes, and okra. The following week, we will dig up the sweet potatoes and harvest the remaining Seminole pumpkin squash.

After pulling out the remaining crops, we plan to spread some kelp meal, to correct a low level of potassium and to add some trace minerals. The manager of the property where the garden is located (at Smith Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw) is going to till the entire garden for us on September 30, so we can plant our cover crop the next week (thank you Doug!).

The dream is that the Austrian peas will improve the soil, partly by adding nitrogen and partly through increasing the organic matter.

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