When fall arrives, we remove what’s left of the vegetable plants from the raised beds and plant a cover crop.
In our case, winter rye works the best. Other gardeners use clover, but I prefer rye.
A cover crop is what gardeners and farmers sometimes plant in the soil when they are not growing vegetables to harvest. Cover crop prevents erosion, inhibits weeds, and, maybe most importantly, adds nutrients to the soil.
As the rye grows to maturity, we can till it back into the soil. The winter rye becomes green manure, adding to the health of the soil as it decomposes. By doing this, along with a dressing of compost in the spring, we don’t have to add fertilizers or anything unnatural to the soil before planting next year’s vegetables.
Some people prefer to do a fall season of vegetables, and squeeze more harvest out of the soil. But I find replenishing the soil more beneficial in the long run. The rewards are delayed, but greater.