Now that your garden is cleared and tilled, it is ready for the next step.
4) Mulching and/or Cover Crop
This is an important step because it not only prevents overgrowth of weeds come spring, but it also protects your soil from erosion and provides much needed nutrients. It can also break up the clay or hardpan. Hooray for healthy soil!
Optional: Sow cover crops.
Cover crops are quick-growing ground cover plants. Benefits to cover crops are many. They amend the soil and improve fertility, prevent soil erosion and soil compaction, keep soil microbes active, and keep weeds at bay.
Over the winter the cover crop will lie dormant and began to grow very early in spring. You will pull them and add them to your compost or till them into your garden before you begin to plant. It’s important to do this before they go to seed otherwise you may have alfalfa growing in your tomatoes!
Some Utah-friendly options can include legumes such as alfalfa, hairy vetch and Austrian winter peas, or non-legumes such as winter rye or buckwheat.
Cover with mulch.
Some mulch options include fallen leaves, grass clippings, straw or any organic mulch cover from your local garden store. Watch out for Black Walnut tree leaves however, these are toxic!