NGA Articles: Fall Soil-Building

Fall Soil-Building (cont)

By: Charlie Nardozzi

Cover Crops

Another way to add organic matter to the soil and prevent erosion is to grow cover crops. These are crops, such as winter wheat, winter rye, and annual ryegrass, that grow during the warm days of fall and early spring. Cover crops are seeded in fall about six weeks before the first expected frost date. To plant cover crops, clean up old plants from the garden and till the soil. Use a garden spreader to broadcast the seed, lightly cover it with soil, and water. Let the cover crop grow until early spring, then till it under. Wait a few weeks after tilling before planting. The cover crop will break down and add vital nutrients and organic matter to your soil.

Question of the Week

Storing Potatoes

Q. I've just finished digging my potatoes. How should I store them to last into the winter?

A. After digging, allow your potatoes to cure at 60 to 65 degrees F for 10 to 14 days with humidity of 85 percent or more; then store them at 40 to 45 degrees with relative humidity of 90 percent, making sure to keep them in the dark the entire time. The digging and sorting process tends to knock off most of the dirt, so don't bother washing them. Cure potatoes by laying the tubers in single rows in baskets, slatted crates, or ventilated sacks. Store them in baskets in a cool basement, checking periodically for any rotting tubers. If you can keep the temperatures low and humidity moderate, your potatoes can last many months in storage.

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