Rye Grass

Someone said that planting rye grass in the winter (Pittsburgh) where you have your garden would be a good idea because it replaces or adds nitrogen to your soil. Right now I cover my garden area with leaves, and then dig them in during Spring.
Tom
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You would be better served to plant a legume if you have the time, b/c that will add nitrogen to the soil in addition to the organic material. After all, there's a couple tons of nitrogen in the atmosphere over your garden - why buy it from a store if you can get it for free??
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or clover to add nitrogen and then hoe it down 2-3 weeks before you prepare for sowing your spring crops (or just before it sets seed if you don't want it re-establishing itself). Some people dig it in to the soil whilst others let it decompose on top of the soil.
rob
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I tried rye grass as a winter crop one year, and won't do it again. It grew quite well, but in the spring my garden looked like a hayfield, and cutting the rye grass and turning it under was quite a bit of work. I don't have a scythe or a machete, and even my old power mower wouldn't cut it, then the rototiller kept jamming as the rye grass clogged the tines.
There are far better winter crops to help your soil with less work.
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I have made the mistake of planting annual rye grass in the garden for ground cover. Later I discovered that cereal rye is the thing to plant. The stuff farmers would plant to get rye for flour. It grows fast, fixes the nitrogen, and will add tilth to the soil. Get it at a farm supply place. You do need a rototiller to turn it under in the Spring.
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