In the Garden: Autumn, winter in the garden | Community

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Conservatories should be covered with either a tarp, mulch or cover crop. All will add organic matter and improve the condition of the soil.

Roots of cover crops can break up soil “tilling pans”. Roots and leaves trap and hold nutrients and legumes in the mix fix nitrogen. However, cover crops grow very profusely during the winter and are often 3 to 4 feet tall by mid-spring, especially if you are planting grains with legumes. I generally recommend only legumes like crimson clover, Austrian winter peas, or hairy vetch in most situations. You may have to wait for a dry spell next spring before you can plow the cover and start gardening. Gardeners are also experimenting with tarps combined with mulch and/or compost as a winter treatment. This reduces weeds and allows you to manage soil moisture for early planting.

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