Pigs did some major tilling in front of the barn, where there is a small hill. I tried to reseed with grass/clover that was Winter tolerant but the chickens got to it. I thought at least some would germinate by now, but it's bare soil. It's an average of 45 to 50 degrees with lows down to 39 some nights, and the rain has begun. Is there any saving this soil? Any winter cover crops I can still plant? If not, would the next best thing be to sheet mulch it?
I'm thinking turnip, mustard, radish, spinach. Something that will take the cold, won't establish permanently, and give you or the pigs a meal if it is able to mature. Roots will give the soil some hold, leaves will offer some soil protection. Turnip and radish may offer some help breaking up the soil. Turnip/mustard/radish seed is inexpensive.
Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
As an alternative to planting the soil or in addition to it if the plants don't end up doing the job you want (especially if you are expecting a harsh winter kill - and a harsh winter has been rumored for this year) you could put a brush/slash pile on top of it. It will take the punch out of the rain and provide a nice warm mirco climate for things that don't need sun. I usually stack brush 3 to 4 feet high. I use hemlock bows and salmon berry canes and the like.
In addition, you might consider putting in some wintery roots and some mulch on top: garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, scorzonera, horseradish will all like hanging out and getting a strong start in mulched soft soil..
You might scatter straw. That will protect the soil against the impact of the raindrop, at least. And, if there is grass seed below the straw so much the better!
Next year you would get a little grain in your grass, but as long as you mow it the grain will only live for one growing season, and it will not have a chance to re-seed.
Chickens are WICKED on seed beds! What they do not eat they scratch up and scatter, and the germinated seeds then dry out and die! I have never had a chicken harm an established lawn, but they were horrible in anything freshly seeded!
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