Oats, Peas, and Barley Winter Cover Mix
A time-honored combination for building organic matter in the soil. Like most grain/legume mixes, this builds soil by fixing nitrogen, improving soil texture, preventing erosion, and creating biomass. Unlike most other mixes, however, these all freeze out at about 25 degrees F. The idea is to plant in early fall (September most places) and get a nice thick stand of green that effectively smothers weeds and sequesters nutrients so they don't wash away. Then, when winter gets cold, the cover crop dies and makes a mulch that feeds soil organisms and prevents erosion all winter. It can be raked aside for planting, without laborious spading. This is an easy way to grow mulch in place.
If the cover crop survives the winter in your microclimate, the plants should be turned under while still green and juicy, before flowering. Or cut them for compost. You can also feed the greens to poultry, or let chickens eat and scratch the crop down. Bonus: the pea shoots (the top 4" or so) make an great salad ingredient all winter.
We have added some purple vetch so it can put even more nitrogen into the soil, and triticale which makes lots of organic matter. Note that peas have broad leaves, and vetch has very narrow leaves in a comb configuration. (you can see the narrow vetch leaves and fat pea leaves in the photo.) Vetch is not edible.
contains 1 oz. Plants 100 sq ft.