The quilt crop seed I’ve readily available I bought an excellent a few years in the past. However since then,  excluding just a few beds planted with winter rye, I’ve not planted cowl crops due to numerous set backs.

This fall — though later than what I had hoped —they’re planted over a lot of the backyard.

In years when none have been planted, principally the identical advantages they supply have been derived from choose wild and cultivated vegetation that I enable to volunteer within the backyard.  I’ve defined this in letters to “subscribers solely” and in numerous TMG posts.  You’ll recall titles similar to “Don’t Waste Your Weeds”.

These “weeds” (as some of us name them) when minimize or pulled and laid on prime of the beds additionally serve to  present the identical advantages because the bought covers do. They maintain the soil in place, improve soil well being, add vitamins,  add natural materials and thus improve soil life, enable the soil to carry extra water,  and might support in breaking illness and pest cycles.

So why did I exploit bought cowl crops?

One motive after all, is I had the seed.

However one fundamental motive was so as to add some biodiversity. Every plant makes its personal distinctive contribution to the soil. And. the extra variety you’ll be able to add to your backyard, the higher it’ll be.

As well as sowing the covers provides uniform protection and due to this fact advantages extra of the soil than random progress of assorted vegetation scattered right here and there.

And beds crammed with covers appear simpler to work within the early spring. (Which may simply be a psychological factor for me.)

Within the image beneath are seven beds with both oats or a combination of oats and discipline peas.  Those displaying essentially the most progress have been planted first.  The others with solely sparse vegetation have been planted a lot later. 

L1660370 8 beds with cover crops

Seven beds on the far facet of the backyard planted with cowl crops.

How Concerning the Paths?

If there had been sufficient seed,  paths would have been planted as effectively.  Because the covers develop within the path you’ll be able to minimize or weedwack them to the bottom  in the event that they get in the way in which.

You’d miss out on a bit natural materials (relying on the quantity of progress earlier than you chop them), however you’d get all of the  advantages the roots supply. (No matter you chop, depart it the place it was rising to get its advantages.)


You’ll discover that leaves have additionally been added to the beds.

Mattress First Planted – Oats and Subject Peas – A Nearer View

L1660361 oats and field peas close up

Shut up of oats and discipline peas. This was the primary mattress planted.

Subject Peas and Oats Winter Kill 

Nevertheless, the primary yr I planted oats I didn’t assume they’d —despite the fact that we’d had many nights beneath freezing.  (I’ve learn that they winter kill at 15ºF.)

Fortunately they lastly died again. However it was very late winter earlier than it occurred. 

After I was prepared to make use of that mattress for lettuce within the spring, I simply pulled out the oats and laid it on the remaining empty spots of the mattress to complete decaying.

Had I been utilizing the mattress for transplants like cabbage or a heat climate crop, I’d have made an area for the transplant and left the remaining oats the place they grew to complete decaying.

Your discipline peas might be dealt with the identical approach. 

Legumes (like discipline peas, backyard peas, beans and so on) and Nitrogen

Though legumes can add nitrogen to the soil, they’ll use virtually all that nitrogen once they set seed. That’s why your peas and beans grown to eat don’t depart a lot nitrogen within the soil. Most is saved within the seeds (fruit) the plant produces.

With legumes used as cowl crops (that aren’t allowed to seed) you’ll be able to verify the roots and inform in the event that they’ve been fixing nitrogen. If they’ve, the nodules on the roots must be  readily seen.

A Fundamental Job for Oats as a Cowl Crop

Oats scavenge, acquire, and maintain vitamins. 

Why You May Not Need to Develop Subject Peas – at the very least not yearly.

Since oats maintain onto (mop up or acquire) vitamins within the soil the mix (oats and peas) might preserve concentrated ranges of nitrogen in your soil. (I’ll give an instance additional down of why you won’t need that.)

Should you’ve gardened for some time as I like to recommend you’ll be able to assume a carryover of vitamins (together with nitrogen) whenever you mulch and whenever you regularly refurbish your soil with natural supplies.

Mr Robert Parnes, famous soil scientist, said that in his guide as I elaborated on within the put up Nitrogen – Do You Must Add it to the Soil —

As I identified in one other put up right here – “The chemical firms have carried out an excellent job “promoting” the necessity for added nitrogen.”

Should you’ve gardened with nature for a whilst you simply don’t want so as to add any.

What About Seedlings?

Even with rising seedlings that I begin in containers they seldom if ever want further nitrogen. Years in the past I bought a bottle of liquid seaweed and I could have used  a complete of 6 cap fulls over time.  I’ll in all probability have it the remainder of my life – which I’m hoping will probably be at the very least 20 extra years.

How Do Our Gardens Get Nitrogen?

Nitrogen and different vitamins are added to our soil by means of decaying/decayed natural supplies. (Mulch, crop residues, cowl crops, and so on.)

As I discussed close to the start of the put up I used wild vegetation and home vegetation that I allowed to develop up in my backyard to get the advantages of canopy crops once I was not in a position to plant bought cowl crops.

Some I laid onto uncovered beds. Others I fashioned right into a roll or a decent pile and put them in an unoccupied spot to decay.

One such pile I had positioned subsequent to my finest asparagus plant to offer an additional increase of vitamins.  It was already decayed once I planted a pepper plant into the pile which had turned to black filth already.

The plant grew. However didn’t have even one pepper on it till into September!! Because it seems – unbelievably – I harvested over 150 peppers from that plant by late November. (Proven beneath.)

L1660038 carmen peppers

Pepper plant rising my decayed weed pile.

Any of you who’re seasoned gardeners might have already guessed the doable trigger:  That tall pile of decaying weeds held a variety of nitrogen.  And it produced a variety of inexperienced however no peppers till September.

That’s what many fruiting vegetation do once they have an excessive amount of nitrogen.  They produce extra foliage than fruit.  It was sheer luck to get as many peppers as I did!

How I’ll Use Beds within the Spring That Have Subject Peas (and Oats) in them now

In these beds I’ll plant issues like lettuce, chard, kale, beets, cabbages, potatoes, parsley, onions,  and the rest that may use that a lot nitrogen.

For certain it received’t be my first option to put fruit producing vegetation like peppers, tomatoes, cukes, melons, squash, and so on. in them. Though if I’ve extras of these vegetation that may go in late – I’d attempt it.

An Glorious Motive to Use the Mixture of Oats and Subject Peas

I’ve one reader that I do know of that’s engaged on bringing her soil again to life with using cowl crops similar to oats and peas. And naturally leaves.

I’m very excited for her and might hardly wait to see how her backyard will start its transformation as she works hand in hand with nature.

Posts on the three Keys

There are lots of posts on the three Keys to Profitable Gardening on TMG.  Right here’s a straightforward one you may need to overview

Should you’re new to TMG and need to know extra, simply click on “Residence” on the prime of the web page. Then put “3 keys” into the search field. Quite a few posts will come up.

Closing Ideas

I hope your fall/winter backyard is prospering.

Hopefully you’ll have a while on the finish of December to consider beginning onions, what you’ll plant in 2024, planning what goes the place, what cowl crops you may use when beds are empty, what cowl crops you may mix in beds with rising greens, and typically what simple factor you are able to do to get pleasure from your backyard extra and make it even higher.


Thanks to those that have supported the work I do on TMG. It is extremely appreciated.

As you already know, there isn’t a promoting on TMG and I rely upon readers to allow me to proceed.

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