We grow vegetables in a 10,000 square foot area of mulched, no-till beds in Northern California. We use a lot of cover crops. How do we incorporate them to retain the most nutrients without digging up the beds? We'd like to transplant into the beds as soon as possible.
When we tried to slash and drop it didn't kill the plants. Is there a way to do it so that it DOES kill the plants?
What type of cover crops are you growing? Some cover crops will die when chopped and dropped, some will come back from the roots and would need to be pulled.
I am wondering what crops you are planting that you feel the need to have the cover crop dead instead of rejuvenating.
I have beds that are no till and we chop/drop and then plant, by the time the cover crop is coming back, the crop plants are already going strong enough that the cover crop doesn't create a harmful situation.
If you give me more information on 1) the cover crops you are using, 2) the crop plants you are putting in for harvest, I can perhaps give you some directions to give a go with.
Now, in the summer, we are growing buckwheat and cow peas. In the winter we grow bell beans, Austrian Peas, and vetch. We will be transplanting a variety of vegetables into the beds after the cover crop.
Would we be better off to keep a low-growing perennial white clover in the beds rather than trying to kill an annual cover crop?
I would recommend the low growing Dutch clover, it is what I use just about everywhere. The buckwheat will die off if you chop it as it is turning brown at the end of the growth cycle. Peas and Beans will also die if you let the plant go to maturity before chopping or if you cut it off right at ground level in my own experience.
I personally do not like vetch as it is a perennial and would need to be dug or pulled up roots and all. I don't like morning glory for the same reason of nearly impossible to get rid of it once it is established.
My personal choices of cover crops were made as a result of what we grow and how we grow it. I use Crimson, Dutch clovers, Buckwheat, Purslane, Austrian peas and annual yellow sweet clover.
All these get mowed down just prior to planting our crop plants (transplants). By the time any of the covers begin to make their comeback, the crops are already established and not taken over by the covers.
The buckwheat and peas have never made a comeback on our gardens since we cut at 1/2" above the ground or lower. The clovers do comeback but it takes them around three weeks and they never hurt the crop plants.