Fall Compost and Cover Crops

* As you drag the hose around, don’t forget that the compost needs water along with everything else. It won’t die if it gets desiccated, but it won’t decompose either. It can be a low priority if there’s plenty of space to make a new pile ( or piles!) at cleanup time. Otherwise it will be very convenient to have a nice open place to heap the frost-blasted dahlia stems and chopped up autumn leaves. Plus fall plantings benefit from lots of compost, which is often in short supply by the end of the growing season.

* It’s time – past time, really – to sow cover crops in annual and vegetable beds that are starting to fade. The payoff in improved soil health is worth the effort it takes to clean out tired plants and find winter rye seed. If you don’t expect frost for at least 6 more weeks, you can plant tender alternatives like buckwheat or field peas instead. They will still be small when they get killed, so they won’t make as much green manure, but because they will rot down over the winter you won’t have to till them in next spring.

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