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Cover crops where winter kill is not possible

 
Jerry Anderson
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Hi,

I have been doing a little research on cover crops to build soil fertility and I am wondering what experience people have had in areas where winter kill is not possible. I live in Orange County, CA and frost simply does not happen. I am also looking to doing no till so my preference is for something that is non-invasive and non-persistent (assuming that I chop it down before it creates mature seeds). Ideally I would like something that grows quickly with significant mass and then chop it at the root base and have it die off as part of the chopping process leaving the root material in the ground and then using the chopped vegetation as a mulch.

I have found that if I don't chop low enough to the root of some plants they have a tendency to grow back so I am concerned about that. Also, I would prefer to not use something like Daikon Radish since they are edible and I am more inclined to eat them than leave them in the ground to rot.

Thanks
Jerry
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Crop rollers work well on some covers. Flail mowers work on others.

I am really liking flail mowers (powered chop and drop), but the crop rollers are a lot cheaper to use and easier to DIY.

And you can never eat too many of the radishes or turnips to matter. Wildlife is a different story...
 
Jerry Anderson
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Sorry - I should have been more clear. I am talking about home garden/backyard size space - raised beds, etc. Everything is done by hand.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Same answer works with a BCS 2 wheel tractor sized equipment (think rental). Or a lawn roller crimper by hand. or a push mower. or scythe.

Or you can chop it, compost it, and return it to the bed.

I usually do a combination.
 
Jerry Anderson
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Thanks.

What types of crops have you tried?
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Wheat (white, red, spring, fall, buck), oats, rye, clover, peas, beans, turnips, radishes, sunflower, and probably a couple more. At a garden scale, I like larger seeds that I can visually sort out weeds/unwanted species. I have had big problems with grass in the rye seed from many different sources.

At a farm scale, I terminate by animal. But most of my stuff I want perennial or self-seeding annual pasture/forage so not terminating is OK, too.

Tarps are also a very viable option garden scale. Probably the best if you have the time. Letting them sit and rest for a month is hard to do, sometimes.
 
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