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What to cover plain dirt with until clover can be seeded in the fall?

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What to cover plain dirt with until clover can be seeded in the fall?

Post  fellenf on 6/22/2011, 4:17 pm

I put in some raised beds this year, but there is an expanse of fill dirt in the rest of the area that I wanted to plant with simple rows next year. This area has received 2 larg dump trucks of topsoil, and as a result, I have spent hours hand picking or hoeing many ruthless and nasty pasture weeds, as I wanted them uprooted. I wanted to plant a cover crop of clover this fall to plow under in the spring for planting, as the soil needs the nutrients. My question is -- given near depleted funds, what can I use to cover this area until October (I'm in far north Georgia, on the border of zones 7/8. It needs something because I have a big house dog who goes out back when I do, and when it rains or the ground is wet, I am washing muddy feet and claws that have sunk some into the dirt -- outside, rain or shine, winter or summer. If it weren't for that, I'd leave it! I thought of newspaper with straw on top, but I wouldn't be plowing it under for spring planting (I'd still have exposed dirt) -- I need it ready for clover. I could remove the straw and let it break down, but that will be a loooooot of straw. Any help or suggestions welcome! :!:




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fellenf

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Re: What to cover plain dirt with until clover can be seeded in the fall?

Post  Glendale-gardener on 6/22/2011, 4:21 pm

You could mulch it with mini pine fines or cocoa shells- it would be easy to rake it in before planting clover and would help amend the soil as well.
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Re: What to cover plain dirt with until clover can be seeded in the fall?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/22/2011, 4:23 pm

Weed cloth, old carpet, bales of straw, etc. Stuff you intend to pick up. You could also buy a small bag of "annual ryegrass" and seed it. It grows fast, but burns out in the heat....unless you water it. Let it burn out. The dead grass will supply some nutrients to the ground AND will stop some of the mud issue.

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Re: What to cover plain dirt with until clover can be seeded in the fall?

Post  fellenf on 6/22/2011, 4:27 pm

Would mini pine fines be the finely shredded pine bark I use to mulch my acid loving hydrangeas and blueberry bushes? Would plowing that under make our already generally acidic soil more so?

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Re: What to cover plain dirt with until clover can be seeded in the fall?

Post  Glendale-gardener on 6/22/2011, 4:30 pm

Oh yeah, thats probably right! Cocoa shells would still work or I like BBGs carpet idea too...
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Re: What to cover plain dirt with until clover can be seeded in the fall?

Post  fellenf on 6/22/2011, 5:04 pm

As temperatures have stayed in the 90's -- and that's typical until around September -- I guess I could just continue with the straw or hay. I haven't tried newspaper yet under the straw, but should that have decompesed by October? If not, I'll just cover it all with straw and save the muddy feet issue. School starts back for us the first week of August and I can't chance my dog coming to the back door with brown feet when I have to leave at 7:00 a.m. No I supposed I could gather all that hay and let it sit over the winter. If it breaks down enough, it might could serve another purpose as mulch next spring.

Thanks, y'all. I'm new to vegetables this year, having done more flower gardening. I got a late start this year and learned the hard way that single handedly mixing at least 36 bags in equal parts of compost, topsoil with peatmoss, and soil conditioner in a big wheelbarrow, after applying 2 coats of linseed oil to 4 raised beds, is backbreaking in our summer heat. I'll be ready to start the rows next year by late April and use the raised beds for early lettuces, etc.

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Re: What to cover plain dirt with until clover can be seeded in the fall?

Post  fellenf on 6/22/2011, 5:24 pm

On the other hand -- will the hay, if left on to decompose with the newspaper over the winter, be sufficiently broken down to till under for spring planting?

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Re: What to cover plain dirt with until clover can be seeded in the fall?

Post  camprn on 6/22/2011, 6:13 pm

Mulch is expensive. If it was my problem I would consider a mid season annual cover crop like buckwheat, turan it under in fall then plant the fall/winter cover crop. There is some good info here
http://www.hort.cornell.edu/bjorkman/lab/covercrops/index.php
Good luck!
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