Fall is the time to reamend your garden soils!
In all organic gardens, the fall is the best time to come up with a strategy to reamend your soils. This is because over the winter months, though your garden looks peacefully asleep under a blanket of snow, the soil biology is still fast at work in breaking down the organic matter and transforming it into rich nutrients for your spring growth. It is over the fall and winter months that a reservoir of bioavailable nutrients are built up by this soil biology, despite the cold temperatures. And it is this reservoir of nutrients that the plants tap in to as soon as the ground begins to warm in the spring, aiding the vigorous flush of growth that happens at this time.
Keep in mind that when applying organic soil supplements, it takes some time- often months- for a particular nutrient to be broken down sufficiently by the soil microbiology to then be available to the plant roots. If you wait until the spring to reamend your soil, you create a time lag that does not immediately contribute to the spring emergence and growth. But throw these nutrients down in the fall, and their nutritional value is ripe and ready for the new root growth come the warmer months.
Not all nutrients are recommended for this purpose. For example, you can add nitrogen to your soil through the application of something like blood meal. This, however, is more quickly broken down by the soil microbiology than something like alfalfa meal. And as nitrogen is a water soluble nutrient, the rapid release of nitrogen over the winter months stands a good chance of simply being washed away before your plants can use it. Alfalfa meal by comparison takes longer to decompose, and therefor is better for this purpose. Rock dusts, gypsum, humic acid and of course composts are excellent amendments for fall use, which increase the micro and macro mineral levels in the soil.
Fall is also a great time to apply an EM [effective microbes]. This is a liquid source of largely lactic acid bacteria and is simply sprayed directly onto the ground or mulch, providing a significant inoculation of the valuable microbiology that works over the winter months to breakdown any available organic matter.
And what ever you do to amend your fall soils, do not forget to protect and enhance the process by using a good mulch. This helps protect as much as possible the biology that resides in your soil, providing a habitat for this biology to work its magic. An inch or two of compost or shredded leaves will do wonders to help increase soil quality, as well as the ever so important soil structure. Avoid the use of regular leaves, especially maple, as these can mat together with moisture. Shred the leaves where possible, or compost them for use the following fall.
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