If you’ve got a fall garden going, you’ve still plenty of plants in the ground, so bookmark this for when you’re done for the year. If, however, like many gardeners, your growing season is over for the year, its time to begin thinking about prepping your ground for spring. Read on for some ways you can get a head start on a fruitful spring season.
For starters, while it may seem necessary to fully remove any remaining plants, leaving some roots may not necessarily be a bad thing. Just yank the plant out by the stem, and whatever roots are left will feed the microbes in the soil. Why is this a good thing? It produces humus, which aerates soil and feeds plants. Diseased plants/roots are, of course, and exception to this rule, and should be removed completely.
Generally, spreading pure manure is a no-no, as it will burn the roots. Applying it now, however, gives the ammonia time to disperse over the winter, meaning you get all the rich organic matter with none of the hard stuff. Spread it about an inch thick for optimal results. Even better, if you water it, and cover it with leaves, straw or a tarp, it will form a near compost.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good cover crop. Cover crops can pull nutrients up from the subsoil, combat erosion, and eventually up nitrogen content and organic matter when they are turned back under. This is one procedure you really can’t wait much longer than fall to start, as the soil needs to be warm enough to allow germination. Good cover crops include sorghum, red cereal, alfalfa, clover and oats.
Cover crops are a little more complex than this would suggest, however. Some are better for erosion prevention, some for nutrient uptake, and so on. Tune in next week for a more in-depth discussion of this important component. In the meantime, happy fall, and happy gardening!
A humble homesteader based in an undisclosed location, Lars Drecker splits his time between tending his little slice of self-sustaining heaven, and bothering his neighbors to do his work for him. This is mainly the fault of a debilitating predilection for fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors. When not engaged in any of the above activities, you can normally find him broken down on the side of the road, in some piece of junk he just “fixed-up.”