Friday, March 26, 2021

Growing Oats as a Cover Crop

Although growing unprotected crops over the winter is not much of an option for those living in colder climates, for those living in more mild climates - winter gardening is can provide many opportunities. Growing over the winter can provide the opportunity to incorporate additional fertility or to grow additional crops. Fertility can be added through compost and amendments or through growing a “green manure” cover crop.

 

 

 







Cool wet conditions in the maritime northwest can make interesting challenges for growing over the winter. Especially if slugs persist and squirrels dig everything up. Slugs mow lots of lower leaves down while squirrels love to bury and dig up all manner of things in my garden on a daily basis. Because of these factors, some of the best things I can grow are larger cover crops. However, in my 2019-2020 winter garden, I chose to grow some oats. Because I had previously grown fava beans, I felt changing to another, shorter crop would be good.

 

 

 

At first this was true. The oats were relatively small to begin with. However, given time, the oats grew to be at least as tall as the Robin Hood fava beans. At the end of the season, I cut down all of the oats in the garden except those which were the most shaded. I left those to grow a seed crop for the next time I want to grow oats as a cover crop.

 




Looking back on the experience, I’m glad that I decided to use oats as a green manure this last year. They were relatively easy to cut down and enabled me to keep my garden weed free. In moderate climates, it can often be a situation of “seed it or weed it” meaning that if the gardener does not cover the ground, weeds will quickly spring up.

 

 



Cool wet conditions in the maritime northwest can make interesting challenges for growing over the winter. Especially if slugs persist and squirrels dig everything up. Slugs mow lots of lower leaves down while squirrels love to bury and dig up all manner of things in my garden on a daily basis. Because of these factors, some of the best things I can grow are larger cover crops. However, in my 2019-2020 winter garden, I chose to grow some oats. Because I had previously grown fava beans, I felt changing to another, shorter crop would be good.









1 comment:

  1. After you mow down the oats do you pull all the plants out or do you plant among the remaining roots? I also planted fava beans. Last summer I planted lots of cow peas and in spring snap beans and now I’ll be planting pinto and more black eyed pea’s. I do this all to improve my soil. Very good post.
    Christine
    Dallas zone 8a

    ReplyDelete

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