rolling and crimping cover crops


I have been thinking what the best way to grow a no till organic garden is. I think growing cover crops and then rolling and crimping them to kill them and form a mulch would be better than laying down mulch hay since that has to be harvested and probably takes a lot more energy to produce than a mulch crop directly seeded in the garden.

Does anyone have experience and suggestions for how to do this?

Comments for rolling and crimping cover crops

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Nov 21, 2010
Rolling and crimping cover crops
by: Megan

I believe your idea is sound, especially if you are happy to wait to grow the cover crop first.

In a very home-gardenish way I sometimes do my version of rolling and crimping of a cover crop.

I simply stamp or stomp over the crop, and often the crop is left-over from harvest such as peas or beans. I might sometimes add some grass clipping to thicken the plant cover out.

As long as the soil is good and there are no bad weeds, I can then plant seedlings straight into the patch.

As I understand it, rolling and crimping cover crops is especially useful for farmers using the no-till method. The idea is to run over with a machine that bends and bruises a heavy biomass cover crop such as rye, which then forms a mat mulch before decomposing later.

It's better than cutting the crop because the plants might re-sprout. The farmer saves having to spray for weeds, needs less irrigation, and can actually plant the new crop the same time into the field.

Would be interested to hear what you do and how well it works.

Jan 04, 2011
Rolling and crimping in the garden
by: Alan, NZ

I didn't know I was called a roller and crimper!

I usually grow a crop of broad beans or peas (also tried lupin in a larger area successfully) over winter, pick the pods early and in early spring bend it all over (with gumboots stamping around or spade)and put sacks or lots of newspaper or cardboard over the lot. I get free sacks from cafe where they roast their own coffee beans. I water it well and then put any old stuff on top and let it rot for a few weeks before planting seedlings into it.
The stuff I do put on top for mulch is never bought, I use grass clippings from local people (non-chemical), pine needles from park, lots of broadleaves from a stand of puku trees or shredded leaves and bark I beg from any nearby tree fellers I hear working.
It does depend where you live, but I find there's a lot of good garden material around that you don't have to pay for and doesn't waste resouces, if you ask and look.
I'm guessing that with a very thick patch of plants, I could just roll and crimp only which would form the mulch and stop weeds and drying. I might give it a go without the sacks or paper in an area next time, but I might get some extra legs in to help, or borrow a lawn roller to make sure it's all well flattened. Cheers, Alan

Jan 04, 2011
ideas about grass clippings, links to home made crimper and manual
by: Anonymous

I would love to hear what you find out with your trial.

What you were doing also sounds like a good idea but I think it has some disadvantages. There is not a complete nutrient circle since not everything comes from the garden. Nutrients are being imported so to say from grassclippings, although if it is within the neighborhood, I don't see much of a problem with it, only that the soil life needs to pull all the organic matter down into the soil since applying grass clippings means the grasses roots are still back on the lawn. Also eventually the minerals in the clippings will all be in your garden instead of the lawn where they came from, and the lawn will become depleated. Everything that comes from a piece of land should go back technically. Thats the idea behing composting toilets, even if it might sound disgusting at first. Back to my earlier point though, another disadvantage of grass clippings is that the grass didn't grow in the garden, so there are no roots in the soil, and dying roots create air channels for root respiration, and loosen up the soil.
I don't know much about your climate, but for me it is too late to plant the cover crop I wanted to roll for early crops this spring. Leaving for college got in the way. I would have planted rye in late september and flattened and crimped it in late flower with a board with an attached piece of angle iron. The following link has such a device in the fourth picture from the top:

I wrote a manual trying to figure this idea out if you are interested. Th manual tries to lay out a plan for a vegetable garden that produces in our climate all 4 seasons without pesticides. The link to that is -


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