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A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #1
tarheelchick
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Default weird question for "resting" my garden

I have a very small vegetable garden (roughly 15' x 15') and each summer I plant tomatoes, cukes, peppers, etc. Over the winter, I have been planting an annual rye grass as a cover crop and then just mow it down in early spring. I do not till. I layer over with leave mulch and straw. My soil is in pretty good shape and I have lots of worms. Yay!

Here's my question. Next year, I will be traveling from about March through August and so I will not be planting my usual summer vegetables. My garden will be unused over the summer and I am wondering what the best way will be to keep it "covered" while not being used. I don't want to deal with weeds, erosion, and losing out on all the work I've put in getting such nice soil to this point. I know the rye grass will die out over the hot summer next year. Should I get my husband to layer some leaf mulch over the top during the heat of the summer? (he will still be home and will do that if I ask). Plant some other kind of cover crop to last over the summer? Leave it alone until I return?

Any advice is much appreciated!
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #2
ContainerTed
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If you have a means of collecting clipping from mowing the lawn, I would add that as well as leaves (no walnut or hickory). He can add some other veggie matter and pile it on deep. When you return in the fall, till it all in and enjoy the benefits of the new additives in your 2021 season.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #3
PaulF
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Found this on NC extension pages;

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/summer-cover-crops
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #4
oakley
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I have two small back beds that used to be garlic and the other leeks/onions. (I built two larger beds a couple years ago for those crops)

One of the small beds I covered with cardboard and black plastic. The other I left
alone, took out the raised bed for a much needed seating area but what a mess. The
weeds took over and totally spent the soil. I covered it a couple weeks ago so I can at
least kill it back and rake it smooth in August.

If using organic matter like leaves, keep it thick and have him add more if it breaks down.
Unwanted weed seed is everywhere.

If your climate is kind to a Fall crop, you could have him pock a dozen or two dozen holes and
plant some seeds early-mid August. (or do that when you return). Covered, your soil will be
rich and easy to plant in.
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