Mary had completed that all-important first step—taking a soil sample. The laboratory analysis had been received, the custom soil Rx had been written, and the soil amendment blend was created for her specific soil needs.
It was show time in the Wenger garden on December 4th as the soil amendment blend was broadcast over the loose soil and tilled in to the top six inches. That top six inches of soil, often referred to as the plow layer, is where most of the root growth and nutrient exchange takes place.
December 4th might seem to be a late date, but our mid-western weather was very mild this autumn, and Mary was pulling late season greens and potatoes from her garden well into November. The ground had not yet frozen, and she wanted to take advantage of winter snow and rain to help incorporate the new amendments.
Mary had actually delayed the operation by a day due to excessive wind, which can blow away many of the fines before they get worked into the soil. She watered the amendments in and covered the soil with a light layer of hay.
Bringing your soil into optimum balance does often require an investment. Mary utilized a wise option in soil balancing, which is to treat half of your garden, field, or pasture one year and the other half the next year. There are two main advantages to this. First, it spreads the cost over two years and second, it gives you an untreated (control) area that illustrates how much better the treated area produces in terms of quality, nutrient-density, and yield. Depending on the size of your project, you may decide to balance the soil incrementally over several growing seasons.
This time of year is a great time to peruse the seed catalogs that are coming out and laying some plans for the upcoming growing season. With that in mind, we discussed the benefits of keeping the soil covered at all times and how that sequesters carbon, reduces erosion, and provides free, amino acid Nitrogen for next growing season. Plans are being made for late winter/early spring cold hardy cover crops to be planted, providing that Nitrogen source as well as a “plant through mulch” after cutting down the cover crop before it goes to seed.
We will keep you updated with the progress of Mary’s garden. Till next time … #soilminerals #soilamendments #covercrops www.sustainablesoils.com