Fall Garden Tip
As the growing season comes to an end, here at Edible Eden we are putting the gardens in our care to bed for the winter. We start by pulling out all the spent (or mostly finished) crops. Plants that carry heavy disease loads like tomatoes and squash should not be put into the compost pile. Either let them decompose somewhere away from your garden, put them in with chickens or other livestock or even (sigh) put them in the garbage. There are just too many disease spores and pests that can contaminate your home compost.
Then we take down and store trellis materials, work compost into the beds, plant garlic, and cover it with straw mulch.
In some in-ground gardens we also sow cover crop seed. I tend to opt for cover crops for in-ground gardens as opposed to raised beds as I find it’s difficult to chop them up and till them in in a raised bed context in the spring time. Cover crops prevent more invasive weeds from taking root and some (like vetch or winter peas) will fix nitrogen in the soil, adding fertility for next spring. The trick is that you have to chop them up with a flail mower or scythe and till them into the soil a few weeks before planting if you are to get the most out of them.
A good place to start is with Austrian Winter Peas. While the pea itself is not edible, both the tender pea shoots and the flowers are delicious and an added benefit to using the plant as a cover crop.