Ohio: Charter Member - COTH Hockey Clique & COTH Buffy Clique
check with some of the seed companies that you can mail order from. No guarantees but I remember seeing it somewhere and I get Burpee's, Johnny's Seeds and Seeds of Change (organic and a little $$).
Advantages are the nutrients that it puts back into the soil as well as the stability from winter weather erosion. I don't bother because I have a small bed. Next year when we're at the farm and the garden is about 4x the size, I might look into it. Right now I just add rabbit manure to the top (I also haven't tilled in old crops from this year).
"Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."
"Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike
Rye is the most common cover crop around here. You might check at the elevator, see if they have any seed left. Kind of late to sow around here. Usually covered and going green by late Oct here.
As mentioned, the turned over green stuff, is full of nutrients, which go back into the dirt for your summer crops of flowers or vegtables. Plant material returns organic matter to the soil, keeping air spaces in dirt when you turn it under.
I would pull out anything like tomato and pepper stalks, plants you had problems with, before covering the dirt and sowing. The old plants can harbor and over-winter the disease and insects that prey on those plants. Removing that cover will help keep your beds cleaner for next season.
Starkissed, Oats are a great cover crop and will winter kill in your area, so you won't have to till to kill them in the spring. You need to plant them quite early, like before October 1. You can broadcast them right over your existing plants, so the oats will fill in the bare areas. Then, as your plants die in the fall/winter months, the oats will continue to flourish.
If you don't feed oats, you can probably find a pound or two at the local feed store. They might have a broken bag.
The goal of planting a winter cover crop is to store excess nutrients that are mobile and easily leached out of your soil. The straw and compost are great additions and the oats will take up any nutrients the compost might be at risk of losing to ground water during the winter months.
I'm doing a cauliflower experiment in our field right now. Before we had 2' of snow, we had very nice cauliflower. I've never grown it so late in the season and am not really sure what will happen when the snow melts.