I have a raised bed that I use to plant vegetables. Over the winter, I have planted fava beans as cover crop to get some nitrogen in the soil. What should I do with the fava plants before I plant the vegetables? Should I cut the top and leave the roots in the soil so they can provide nitrogen or should I uproot the entire plant? What should I do with the part I take out (whether that be the top only or complete plant)? Do I put it in the compost bin or mix the top with the soil in my raised bed?
To use this as a green mulch which adds nitrogen to the soil, wait until they're about to flower, and then mow them down and let dry. Then dig into the soil. That ensures that all the nitrogen that the plant has produced is returned to the soil. You then wait 2-3 weeks before planting your vegetables.
If you let them flower, and form beans, then all the nitrogen formed is consumed by the plant. Even if you cut the plants at the soil level and let the roots decompose in situ, you gain little as compared with digging the whole plant in as above. In the latter case where you have harvested the beans, remove the black stalks and use as a carbon source for your compost bins.
Just chop the vegetation up with your shovel and turn it all over in the soil. Allow lots of air, let it be chunky. Add a bit of nitrogen and let it be for a good month or two. Water every now and then to keep some moisture in the soil. I also clean out my trenches and throw soil on the top of the beds, I don't have lumber or concrete siding my raised beds. I will also dump decomposed organic matter on top. Let it go to town all by itself. Plant your early stuff somewhere else? Did you plant cover crop on everything?
Way cool. JStorage. All of that vegetation that has not been allowed to go to seed has been out competing weeds for the winter and now will add to the tilth of your soil. This is better than discovering row cloth!
Where is it you live again? Must be nice...