Growing a Different Crop for Winter

Each year at this time, I clean up the garden.
I gave up on growing food crops in the fall.  When the time changes, I leave the house in the dark and get home in the dark.  I don’t like to garden in the dark.  I can’t see in the dark.  But there are some animals at my house that can see in the dark and I really don’t want to garden with them.  In the dark.
Oh no, I’m starting to ramble.
What I mean to say is,  instead of planting a fall garden, I concentrate on rejuvenating my garden for next spring.
Since I mulch my garden with shredded newspaper and straw, cleanup of the garden does not take long at all.  By the end of the season, almost all the straw and newspaper have been broken down.  This year, I let the chickens help with the clean up  (although I should’ve started this earlier as they were slower than I expected.)
So, all I did was till everything under, rake smooth and sow the garden in a cover crop.
Just a quick word about raking.
When laying your rake down, be sure and put the “teeth” of the rake this way

Rake teeth in the down position
and not this way
teeth up–Beware!
I’m telling you this because this friend of mine laid the rake down with the teeth pointing up.  When she turned around to pick up her shovel, she stepped on the rake sending the handle flying to her head.  It knocked her silly and left a big goose egg on my her head and has caused her to ramble on occasion.  (She was too embarrassed to let me take a picture.)
Cover crops are intended to add nutrients to the soil while the garden is resting.  They can also suppress winter and early spring weeds.  In the spring, cover crops are tilled under adding organic matter back to the soil.
winter wheat and rye seed
winter wheat and annual rye grass seed
There are several options for cover crops, but I have always planted winter wheat.  Winter wheat is readily available where I live and relatively cheap.  It germinates quickly and stays manageable throughout the winter.  The problem is it’s sold in 50 lb. bags and for most gardens that’s 40 lbs. too much.  Fortunately, my oldest son uses winter wheat for his deer plot on the back forty, so none of the seed goes to waste.  Or, you can save the seed for the next year by placing it in a covered container and storing in a dry location.  I’m hoping the chickens will like to forage on it as well as it stays green all winter.  This year I’m adding annual rye grass seed in with the wheat seed.  Rye grass grows slower than wheat, so when the chickens get tired of wheat, the rye grass should be coming in.  Hopefully this will give the chickens a little variety for the dull months of no grass or bugs in the yard.