Heirloom Expert: Adding Organic Matter to Soil

How can you add organic matter to garden soil without compost or manure?

Oats

Oats, winter rye and buckwheat are all good choices for cover crops.

Photo by Fotolia/peangdao

Content Tools

I’ve read your advice about adding organic matter to the garden, but I’ve got some physical issues which make it hard to bring in wheelbarrows of compost or manure into the garden. Any other way to improve the soil? I love to garden and do it organically. — Cindy from Nebraska

Cindy, this is the perfect time to plant a cover crop or what we call a green manure. There are many different plants used which are planted now, then turned into the garden next spring. Winter rye and buckwheat are two of my favorites, as they are easy to find and germinate well in cool fall temperatures. Look through the Baker Creek catalog to find the cover crop which is right for you.

Cover crops also stop winter erosion of the garden soil and can often times be habitat for beneficial insects.