How to prepare a garden for cover cropping without tilling
At the end of the season your field will be filled with plant material from crops and weeds that must be cleared out before cover cropping. If your field is small enough, preparing the space for winter cover-cropping can be done without tilling. I haul out as much plant material as possible, clipping stems at the soil level to allow the roots to rot in place and add organic matter as they decay over the winter. I create in-row compost piles on top of rows so that, while material is composting, it is also building the soil beneath it. Any nutrients leached from the pile will end up in that soil. I then have a field with only crop stubble remaining. I plant my cover crop between the stubble rows. Over the winter, the cover crop will grow and the stubble will rot, both eventually adding organic matter to the soil when they are tilled in the springtime. Since you are not tilling the field to prepare it for cover crop planting in the fall, you are able to cut the amount you til each year in half. You can also mow and bag end of season crop material and avoid the labor intensive process of hauling by hand and wheel barrow.