Winter Garden Prep
There is special care to be taken in the winter months that can help boost your garden’s productivity in the summer. Many of you know our preferred gardening method is permaculture. The steps we’ve taken this winter can certainly be utilized in many other gardening styles.
As we anxiously await Spring and the new planting season, we have also been tending to our garden. The focus- Soil Health! You’ve probably heard that your produce is only as healthy as your soil. Thankfully, there are measures we can take to improve it’s health when it’s less than perfect.
Here’s a peek at our winter garden prep!
If you heat your house with firewood, use the ashes distributing evenly on your gardening area. Ashes help by improving the PH level of your soil. It alkalizes the soil. You want to avoid placing ashes on areas where you’ll plant acid loving crops. A lot of produce can benefit from ashes. Several times when we have had a bucket of ashes we pour them on the ground and rake until it’s a thin even consistency.
Mulching can be woodchips, rotten hay or dead leaves. We use aged woodchips.
This is known as “Back to Eden”. We love it. Minimal grass, so no hoeing! This will be our third garden and the difference in the dirt is noticeable to the eye.
Here’s what we are doing: First, we layered about 2 inches deep of compost then we covered with woodchip mulch. While it’s sitting there during the cold months, it continues decomposing feeding the soil underneath and turning into soil. Come Spring, we take a hoe and form a shallow trench down the middle of the row. Place our seeds in the trench and cover up with rake. No tilling! Even though it’s already February, there’s still time to prep your garden with an aged mulch.
Tilling with Animals
We’ve been utilizing the amazing chicken to prep our garden. We place their housing over the area needing tilled and they do what comes naturally, peck and scratch! This constant motion of pecking and scratching is working the ground, turning it over and helps debug the area. Total Win! Of course, the pooping is also fertilizing the garden too.
This year we didn’t make the deadline to “dress up” the garden with our own compost, but next year’s a different story. Compost is basically putting all the ingredients in a pile to make your own nutrient rich dirt. Shaun built a three sided wall to keep it contained.
So, here’s our recipe for making compost: dry leaves, vegetable food scraps, and chicken manure. An important note is to NEVER use animal scraps in your compost. Ideally, you want to layer the ingredients. Some say to turn your compost regularly, but we don’t. We built our pile 4 foot wide by 4 foot tall. You’ll want to build it at least 3 foot by 3 foot.
We still have to grab a compost thermometer. To make sure your pile is composting correctly, it needs to temp at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit. One final tidbit on composting, keep it damp. Wet it down then cover to keep it moist. We’ll let our compost pile break down 12-18 months.
Let me know if you’re doing any of these, or something else, to boost the health of your garden. Here’s to a fabulous gardening season!
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Until next time….
Blessings to you,