Cover crops and raised beds

Asked October 4, 2019, 4:46 PM EDT

--Is it too late to sow a cover crop for a raised bed? When is the last date a cover crop can be sowed for it to be effective? Which cover crop(s) do you recommend/ or are your favorites? What do I do with the cover crop in early spring when is time to plant veggies? -- Also, what do you think about using pavers or similar (ie, stones) to create a raised bed? I have wood raised beds but the wood is decomposing after 5+ years. I like the idea of stones because is durable, looks nice, and each stone/paver can be managed individually. Do you have recommendations for types of stone to use for raised beds? Thanks so much, your feedback is very appreciated!!

Montgomery County Maryland cover crops vegetables raised beds

1 Response

Hi- climate change is causing our soils to stay warmer deep into fall so you could plant through the month of October, the earlier the better. Cover crops re-grow in spring after going dormant in late fall. Oats and forage (daikon) radish would be the exceptions as they are typically killed by cold winter weather).

We recommend a mixture of a grass species (rye, wheat, barley) with one or more legume species (crimson clover, hairy vetch). Winter rye will germinate at slightly lower temperatures, so could be planted somewhat later than winter wheat.

Please read our web information for details about terminating these crops in spring. This can be done without a tiller, especially if you have a string trimmer to cut down the plants at, or right after, full bloom. Cutting them twice to the ground will usually kill the plants. A small amount of manageable re-growth of the grasses (wheat, etc) may occur: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/cover-crops-protect-and-improve-your-soil
Pavers are fine for bordering raised beds. Just be aware that weed seeds will germinate in any nooks and crannies between pavers where soil collects. All stone and masonry products are fine to use.
Jon