In cold climates, allow cover crops to grow until the weather kills them. Leave the expired crops in the garden throughout the winter to protect the soil. In warmer climates, frost-tolerant cover crops, such as clover and Austrian peas, will survive the winter and put out new growth when the weather turns warmer. Till both expired and living crops into the soil 3 to 6 weeks before spring planting7, making sure you till living crops before they produce seeds.
The best time to add soil amendments is after removing fall crops, when the soil is bare. While cover crops do a lot to improve soil structure, adding fertilizer and other amendments at this stage will help develop a healthy soil environment. Earthworm castings add organic matter to the soil, making nutrients more available to your plants. To help loosen compacted soil, add Lilly Miller Garden Gypsum, which adds valuable calcium to prevent blossom-end rot in next season's fruits and vegetables.8
The best spring gardens start with fall cover crops. A little effort in the autumn, combined with the correct combination of soil amendments at the right time, will assure healthy soil for weed-free spring planting.
Lilly Miller is a registered trademark of Central Garden & Pet Company. Pennington is a registered trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc. Fast Acting is a trademark of Encap, LLC