I had hard soil that would not grow weeds. I ripped it as deep as I could scratch the surface and broadcast planted a high diversity seed mix adding lots of winter rye. Each year I saw major improvements. Keep planting high diversity cover mixes
, when mature broadcast more seed, and roll or lay them over when they get tall. Keep the soil covered at all times! I don't recommend tilling poor soil more than every other year.
The diversity of seed ensures that something will grow well. Mixes can also be designed to mine minerals and provide nitrogen or carbon to the soil. I had to alternate. High Carbon cover crop in the spring, nitrogen crop in summer, and carbon, tall carbon mix in the fall. The tall winter crop preserved nitrogen and carbon in the crop over winter instead of it leeching away all winter. There was not enough nitrogen to grow two high carbon crops at first.
In 3 years of spring, summer, & winter seeding cover crops we had actual soil! Now we have a food forest with alley cropping and cover cropping in between.
I purchased my seed here : Green Cover Seed
. Buy the 50-pound bags and get 5-gallon buckets with lids. save your extra seed for the next season. I used sea salt
in the 50-pound bag to add back trace minerals, but you can get a soil test then add back specifically whats missing. Add amendments before you break up the soil.
I don't have my pictures of the transformation with me, but take a look at Farmers Under Cover
You know its ready for trees when trees start planting themselves!
This process was FAR FAR cheaper than buying wood chips and adding nitrogen fertilizer..