Thursday, July 8, 2010

Make sure your soil is ready for next season

Good soil grows healthy plants. You should prepare your soil well ahead of time to provide the right conditions for growth. We have had the best success getting beds ready in the fall, right after the summer’s garden is finished and when cool, dry weather permits.

Because roots like a soil that is conditioned enough to hold moisture, but porous enough to provide air spaces and good drainage, The best way to give soil this texture is by adding well rotted organic compost, as often as is practical. Good organics include peat moss, well rotted manure over your entire garden to a depth of several inches and mix it into your soil as deeply and thoroughly as possible.

If your soil still seems heavy and form clumps when wet or hard clods when dry mix in up to 2 inches of coarse sand as well as the organic compost.

Soils that are too sandy and drain too quickly can be made more productive through liberal amounts of organic compost.

After preparing your bed, cover with deep mulch over winter to protect the soil and hold weeds down in the spring. With a raised bed prepared this way, we are often able to plant straight into it in spring with no further tilling.

1 comment:

Anne said...

Cover cropping also is important. Some cover crops are good at weed suppression, many are useful for naturally capturing environmental nitrogen with the aid of beneficial bacteria and returning it back to the soil. Cover crops help you retain your top soil rather than let it blow away when fallow plots are left exposed.

Nitrogen washes away as well when compost is breaking down it also can be released in gaseous forms. (If you compost and don't have the correct 30:1 carbon to nitrogen ratio going... that "barnyard" aroma would be nitrogen escaping.)

Yes, you can cover the area but if you are looking to build up the soil your best bet would be also using cover crops. In addition they as well serve as compostable materials when it is time to cut them down, several offer natural means to break up clay by their deep root systems, and some are good to use as a mulch. (As well quite a few are also edible crops or animal fodder.)

Cover crop in the rotation also will help with soil born disease suppression.