Planting cover crops between raised beds

Asked May 7, 2016, 8:48 AM EDT

We have a 40x90 garden plot in Pasadena MD. The soil is very sandy but we've spent the past few years amending with LOTS of compost from our sheep/goats/chickens (tilled in with our tractor). The past two seasons we've done rows of veggies but now would like to redesign the area with raised beds. We planted Rye in the entire area last Fall and it's looking great right now. Our next phase for this garden area is to add raised beds throughout (we have a mountain of great composted dirt ready to use, and we built the beds out of free, untreated pallets). In the back of this garden area we plan on creating huglekulture beds.

Question: what do we plant between the raised beds, by way of cover crops? In another section of our farm where we already have raised beds, we planted clover. This has not been ideal because when we mowed it, it killed off a lot of the clover and weeds came back with a vengeance. (Or maybe you just can't mow clover or perhaps we trimmed it too short? Replanted clover seed again this year and will try again).

We're looking at cover crops that are hardy enough to be mowed or perhaps instead, laying down newspaper or weed barrier with straw on top? Would love to hear your suggestions! Thanks!

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

There is not one best way to prevent weeds. If you sow white clover, you can try not mowing unless it gets too high. Rye can be mowed but needs to be replanted in the fall. Here is some general information on cover crops http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/GE006_ProtectAndImpr...

For mulches you can try burlap, cardboard, or commercial landscape fabric. If you use landscape fabric with any type of organic material on top the weeds will grow on top of the fabric. More permanent mulches include wood chips, shredded bark, brick, and stone.

mh