Hey all, this probably gets asked often, so i apologize... but I can't find the answer to my question: This fall, I had intended to cover crop my raised beds for the first time, in order to pre-infuse some nitrogen for next year, but my tomatoes kept producing and producing, and then a few weekends were hijacked with other stuff that prevented me from getting to it. I'm in Athens, GA (so zone 7, 8, or 8b depending on what map you're looking at); generally the winters are mild, although there's some prediction of repeating last year's freezes. Do you think it's too late to seed with clover? Would wheat (or something else) be better at this late stage? Should I wait until early spring and do a cover crop then, some time prior to planting in?
Last winter, I had covered the beds with tarps, mostly to keep the rain that pummels off of the gutter-less eaves of the roof (the beds sit right next to a south-facing wall) from eroding away the soil, but I finally installed a gutter above, so that problem is solved. If i don't cover crop this winter, though, I'll probably replace the tarps, just to keep things tidy (squirrels and their pecan-donations, etc.). Suggestions? Thanks!
Well, I'm in 7a but a very different climate from where you are. We had a HARD and somewhat early freeze on Halloween night, which finished virtually all my garden production. And now we are predicted to get 10 days of freezing weather (unusual for mid-November here) because of this polar vortex thing getting bumped south by the hurricane-sized storm currently bashing western Alaska.
All that said, last year at about this time I winter-sowed a bunch of clover seed under one of my wild pecans that had been getting choked with brambles before I cleared it. It didn't germinate right away but it did germinate at various warm times during the winter, and then grew vigorously in the early spring.
So if you're willing to buy the seed, I see no harm in sowing your raised beds. You'll have at least some cover crop benefit before it's time to plant the beds in the spring, I would think.
Agree with Dan. Although I still have one live Tomato plant, so apparently in an area of central Oklahoma not quite so harsh. I doubt he survives this arctic blast though. I'll be planting winter wheat and peas as a winter cover soon. I already have it planted and sprouting on another plot of 1 acre that frost killed 3 weeks ago.
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."-Bill Mollison
According to this UGA extension web page page winter rye can be sown in Georgia from Sept-Oct. This is the same time frame as recommend for my country, the Netherlands.
As you are sowing it as cover crop and not for forage you probably could still sow it. I had a little bit of winter rye seeds left over from my huegel bed cover crop. Last week, one week later then recommended, I did sow it in my front garden and it already has sprouted.