Fall rye as a cover crop

I have been battling bad soil in my garden for 14 years now and I think I finally found a cure. 
The typical garden soil here in Alberta consists mostly of what the builder left behind after stripping the topsoil and throwing down some grass seed. In my case, it is mostly clay; after pulling up the grass for the vegetable garden, my soil looked like a cracked concrete parking lot for the first year.
My neighbours buy dozens of bags of compost every year to mix into the soil and I have tried doing this, but the size of my back yard and vegetable garden make this a very time consuming and expensive solution. I make my own compost, but it is not big enough to provide all the compost I need.
I have planted potatoes which do help with breaking up the soil, but they don't add anything to the soil.
Planting fall rye in the fall
I finally decided to try "green manure" or cover crops last fall. I bought a bag of fall rye (ordered online  from West Coast Seeds in Vancouver, a 5 kg bag is $15.00) and planted it in September. Fall rye germinates in cool fall temperatures and continues growing until it starts freezing. It stays dormant under the snow and resumes growing once the snow melts, giving you a nice green carpet in the spring. It is a great nitrogen fixator and it has allelopathic properties, which will prevent weeds from germinating.


You can plow fall rye under in April, when it is about 10 centimeters tall. Its roots will be twice as deep as it is tall, so there is an impressive amount of biomass to plow under.

Rototilling fall rye in the spring

I used a rototiller to plow the fall rye under, it didn't take much of an effort to do that. It resulted in the best soil quality yet, with minimal effort and cost.

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