Tis the season for big changes in the test garden. I've taken down the split-rail fence that's lived in its spot long before my time. It's majorly opened up the space.
Gorgeous, I know, but lately that fence has been cramping my style.I moved the perfect raised bed to a different spot in the garden.
This puppy has been in the same spot since it's construction in 2006. Note the fence behind it
(Big props, by the way, to test kitchen coordinator Stephanie Dean, who was able to recall the date of publication without missing a beat. This girl is a walking Sunset filing cabinet. It's actually kind of freaky).The bed had been planted with fava beans. They taste great, but they're also a great choice for a cover crop, meaning they are grown with the intention of replenishing the nutrients in the soil.
I pulled all the beans and set them aside while I shaped the area for the next project. Then I threw them on top of the new beds, chopped them up into small pieces (three-inches or so), and buried them a few inches the soil.
Disclaimer: This photo is seriously lacking. I was busting my tush in the garden and barely stopped to snap a photo with my cell phone. It's not great, and I'm not ready to do another "after" shot, as the space is still in the works.I'll let the bed rest for 4-6 weeks and then all the favas will have hopefully decomposed, and the bed will be ready for planting.
Cover crop does take the bed out of production for a few months. But I don't always have my next project lined up, so I like to take the opportunity to replenish the soil.
Here is a post I did a looong time ago with more details about cover crops.
What about you guys? Do you take beds out of production in order to replenish? Have you been successful at it? Or do you skip it and just keep on adding compost? I'm curious.