When it comes to low maintenance gardening, nothing can quite lend a hand like planting no-till garden cover crops.

no-till garden cover crops
No-till garden cover crops play a major factor in eliminating weeds from your garden!

Do you want to eliminate nearly all of your weeding woes next year?

Would you like to plant your vegetables next spring with ease, and without the hassle of a rototiller?

And, does the thought of fertilizing your garden 100 percent naturally appeal to you?

Well, if you plant soil-charging, weed-eliminating, no-till garden cover crops this fall, you are well on your way to all three and more!

No-Till Garden Cover Crops – The Secret To A Low Maintenance, High Powered Garden!

Each fall, we plant the soil in the growing rows of our Raised Row Garden with a thick cover crop of annual (winter) rye. It quickly fills the bare soil with a lush, protective, dark green carpet of grass.

Annual rye growing thick in our growing rows before mowing off

That “carpet of grass” helps in more ways than you would ever think. The thick covering protects valuable topsoil, keeping it from eroding from harsh winter winds, rain, sleet and snow.

But more importantly, a cover crop is a huge key to keeping next year’s weeds and weeding chores to a bare minimum.

By covering the barren soil with lush growth, it shields a garden from weed seeds blowing and drifting in – and lying in wait to become next year’s weeding woes for you!

Even more, cover crops act as the ultimate organic fertilizer for the garden. A cover crop gives back its nutrients as it grows and decomposes.

It fixes nitrogen levels, and recharges valuable nutrient minerals, making them available to grow healthy vegetables every year.

And if that wasn’t enough, the roots of cover crops loosen the soil structure below, making it easier for next years vegetable plants to find air, nutrients, and a simple path to strong growth. See : How To Plant A Fall Cover Crop

But Don’t I Have To Till Cover Crops In Next Spring?

One of the best benefits about planting a fall cover crop in your garden is that here is absolutely no need to till it in next Spring!

You can simply mow down a cover crop such as annual rye a few times in the spring, and plant right through the undisturbed surface below.

In fact, it makes planting a breeze. We use a simple post hole digger to create our planting holes, and our tomatoes, peppers and more are in the ground in minutes.

That means no messing around with a rototiller or garden plow. No waiting for spring rains to stop so that you can work the soil.

And more importantly, it means not disturbing the dirt in the garden to allow new weed seeds to find a home. All in all, it allows you to create the ultimate low-maintenance, high-powered garden!

Why Not Tilling Makes All The Difference

Not having to till your garden is more than just a time and labor saver. It also actually helps keeps soil healthier and stronger.

Too much tilling can lead to poor soil structure. It also can wreak havoc on the populations of earthworms and beneficial organisms that lie below the surface.

no-till garden cover crops
Mowing off the no-till garden cover crops in the spring

But more than anything, by not tilling, it will cut your weeding chores 10 fold!

Every time garden soil is turned over, the weed seeds on top are getting replanted. Don’t disturb the soil, and those weeds never find a home.

Just stop and think about what happens to soil within days of tilling. The freshly dug earth explodes in a heavy population of sprouting weeds.

So what do you do? You till again…and again…and again. All the while, the weeds multiply, and the soil structure disintegrates more and more.

With no-till garden cover crops and the Raised Row Garden method, those endless chores are eliminated, and so are 99 percent of the weeds. It really is gardening made simple.

In fact, that is why we are so excited to have finally put the entire process of Raised Row Gardening together in our soon to be released book. One source to cover gardening made simple!

We will have a big release article on the Raised Row Gardening book this weekend, but for our loyal followers, you can take a sneak peek at the cover, info and release dates here : Raised Row Gardening – How To Grow Incredible Organic Produce with No Weeding

Happy Gardening, and get that cover crop in! -Jim and Mary.

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No-Till Garden Cover Crops, How To Stop Next Year’s Weeds This Fall!

13 thoughts on “No-Till Garden Cover Crops, How To Stop Next Year’s Weeds This Fall!

  • September 29, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    This page is difficult to navigate on my phone. Other than that good content. Is there a cover crop that provides a harvest?

  • September 28, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Thank you! This answer, plus the answers to the other good questions asked are very helpful. This was only our first full growing season. Best wishes and congrats on the new book!

  • September 28, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you for your answer, and I can’t wait to hold your book in my hands. It, and one I saw specific to Virginia gardening are on my list for Santa😉

  • September 28, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Billie – You can use this for raised beds that will be holding non-seed crops like tomatoes, peppers, etc. But for rows where there will be seeds crops planted the following year, we always suggest to cover those rows with a heavy covering of compost and mulch over the winter. When spring hits, you can then remove the mulch and plant. The compost helps to recharge the soil. much like the cover crop would. We do used the cover crop method for seed crops like green beans, corn, etc. We simple use a small pick to create a furrow and then plant right there, not having to disturb the soil around it. It works really well. Unfortunately, as we stated above in a comment, it is so hard to explain it all in a single article, and so happy to have written the book to take gardeners through every single phase in every single situation. Hope that helps and happy gardening! Jim

  • September 28, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Using a annual cover crop like winter rye, the grass actually will die back and off in the late spring before planting. It does not come back at all. By planting in the fall, it will green up, and then go dormant during the cold winter months. Once spring comes, it will green up, but after mowing a few times, it dies off completely as you plant through it. With raised row gardening, you can then mulch your rows, and by late fall, when it is time to plant a cover crop again, you rake back the mulch, and can plant right on the surface of the soil. It’s a bit hard to explain all of that in a single article, but that is why we are so excited to have the book now for everyone. It takes the gardener through all of the seasons of the year, and into the following years for a comprehensive manual. Hope that helps and happy gardening! Jim

  • September 28, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I too had the same question. I can see the questions here but not their reply? Do they reply to questions and where?

  • September 28, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Good question Matt. We have tried growing living mulch is in the walking rows as a sample and it does work, although it requires a little more maintenance because you have to mow them to maintain them. We even included that as one of the mulch options for the walking rows in the book.We’ve had really good luck with our wood bark chips holding for a few years at a time.

  • September 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Allen, we actually plant our onions and garlic in rows and just mulch them with no cover crop since it is an overwintering crop.. We then rotate those crops the next year to a new space, and that way we can plant a cover crop back on the rows that were in garlic and onion the year before. The rotation is such a huge part of raised row gardening and it all works together very well. It’s one of the reasons we are so excited to have the book coming out because it really puts it all together for the entire Four Seasons and for the subsequent years.

  • September 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Hello, I too am a bit confused. I understand keeping the weed seeds at bay, and using a post digger to plant in the spring, but does the winter rye grass remain growing or does it die off somehow?

  • September 28, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    I’m still not clear, I thought the previous poster was asking how do you *plant* seed crops in rows, through the mowed-but-still-present rye cover crop?

    Also, I don’t know how this would work for me, as I have raised beds and amend but otherwise prefer not to disturb the soil. Hmm.

    Any suggestions, anyone?

  • September 28, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Instead of doing the mulched walkways, would planting the rye in the walkways work as well? Then seed clover or something else in the spring? Wondering if anyone has tried something like this. In our hot/humid climate, the mulch breaks down too quickly and has to be replaced very often. Have tried chips, hay/straw. Am thinking about just breaking down and going with plastic to combat the weeds.

  • September 28, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Cathy – That is a great question and one of the reasons I am so glad we finally now have written the book to go through all of the processes of the raised row garden. You can grow them all in rows, and for the seed crops, they are covered with mulch for the next year and then rotated so they can be cover cropped the next year. It has taken us 7 years of refining, but the entire system really works so well when it is all put together.

  • September 28, 2017 at 8:29 am

    We love the idea of this, but it looks like we could only do it in rows we intend for plants and not seeds. What do you do for veggies that don’t transplant well and are direct-sew?

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