In keeping with weed control – let me remind you of two important facts about cover crops.
Cover crops – a crop sown after the main harvest or in place of a harvest in a garden area – can build organic matter in the soil. We’ve often seen plants such as clover or buckwheat recommended even for home gardeners for this kind of thing.
But if you grow rye, wheat, mustard and sorghum family crops – they actually fight off weeds with an allelopathic effect.
Of all of these – rye is the best. Bar none. It stops weed seed germination dead in its tracks. And the suppression of small weed seeds lasts for up to 2 months with rye.
However, if you till it into the soil the effect is lost as the chemical disperses.
So after you’ve harvest the spinach, sow a row of rye seed and allow it to stay in place for the summer (that area should be much more weed free next season).
Every time you have an open space, fill it with rye seed. Rye will out-compete the weeds, provide erosion control, add organic matter to your soil.
The following spring, till it in and you’ve got good organic matter.
2 thoughts on “You Need This Simple Trick To Prevent Weeds And Make Better Soil”
Doug, Because I am full time care giving for my mother, I am going to reduce my garden size this year. So, I will have about 5 or 6 75′ raised rows that I want to plant in a cover crop right now (Missouri zone 6). From reading this article and an earlier one you posted on Rye, I am thinking that Rye is my choice. My questions are:
1-When should I plant it?
2-Will it last all summer so as not to have weeds?
3-I usually cover my beds with old rotten hay (that is what is available to me from our farm) so do I put down hay along side the beds are just let the Rye grow?
4-the raised rows are about 36″ wide so do I use hand throw the rye seeds thickly across the row?
Basically, I need to put these beds to rest this entire year.
As always, thanks for your help and God Bless,
OK – let’s look at the answers. Ensure you’re planting annual rye (grain) and not perennial rye (grass) seed. Two different critters here.
1) If Rye – then you’re looking at a very early planting – as soon as the soil temp is over 65F, you’ll get decent germination although the higher you allow it to get, the better with 70F providing excellent germination.
2) Will it last all summer?
The effect of it will last all summer yes – assuming the rye is growing all summer. Will it stop all weeds? In theory yes. In practice not so much and you’ll still have some showing up.
3) Mulch in the rows? Probably a good idea as you can then walk in the rows to pull out any volunteer weeds. But the hay mulch will also contribute weed seeds. Your call.
4) You can hand sow for sure – try to get the seed within an inch of each other for total coverage. But,it’s not rocket science – and close counts.
Hope that answers the questions. Let me know if you need clarification.