The soil beneath our feet is the foundation of gardening. You can spend hundreds of dollars on seeds, baby plants, or mature plants to transplant and grow in your green space. However, without healthy soil, your herbs, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other plants will not be able to survive in the environment. There are several ways you can ensure your soil is nurtured and prepared for the next growing season.
Three Things To Do To Ensure Your Soil Quality is Good for Next Spring:
#1 Begin Composting
Composting is a method that provides your soil energy and nutrients. Your compost pile should be a balance of nitrogen-rich matter (GREENS) like food scraps and carbon-rich matter (BROWNS) like tree pruning and garden waste. The nitrogen starts the decomposition process, and the browns provide airflow. For this process to be successful, you should continue to add browns as your greens increase. The browns will ensure that the compost does not stay wet, smelly, or slimy. If it is too dry, add greens. If it is too wet, add browns.
You can position your compost pile in a shady part of the garden that still receives sunlight. You can also start a compost bin if you live in an apartment or home without a yard. You should have an airtight container and keep the container outside, on a patio, or in a garage. Keep in mind that cold temperatures will result in a longer compost decomposition process. 3 months+ to 1 year depending on your method and how much care you gave it. The hotter the environment, the quicker the greens and browns can decompose into “black gold” compost.
How To Get Started:
1) Find a place to start the compost pile that allows you to turn the heap.
2) Place a small bucket in the kitchen to collect scraps.
3) Spread the first layer of browns at the bottom of the bucket (twigs, hair, straw).
4) Add organic materials (greens and browns).
5) Cover the heap to deter bugs and pests.
6) Maintain high temperatures so that the heap can decompose.
7) Repeat. Be sure to add small cups of water.
8) Rotate the heap. It should have an earthy, odorless smell.
What Can I Put In the Compost?
- Pet bedding
- Crushed eggshells
- Hair or fur
- Coffee grounds
- Nail clippings
- Intreated firewood ash
- Tree pruning
- Garden waste
- Chopped fruit
- Vegetable kitchen scraps
- Nail clippings
- Untreated firewood ash
- Loose tea
- House plant pruning
- Shedding wool/cotton
- Lawn cuttings
What Should I Not to Include in a Compost Pile?
- Raw meat
- Cooked meat
- Cooked foods
- Seeds of aggressive weeds
You can apply earth worms to your soil pile and compost pile. Earthworms act as workers in the soil. They increase nutrient availability, feed on plant debris (dead leaves, grasses, and unused foods), and create better drainage in the soil. Earthworms can act as stewards of the soil by building up the environment with the necessary nutrients for next spring.
#3 Gather Leaves
Leaves that fall from trees hold some of the most nutrition that a tree has. A tree may pull up nutrients from the soil and hold the nutrients in the leaves. Once the leaves fall off the trees, all those nutrients are then dropped to the ground. You can take advantage of that nutrient loss by gathering the leaves, applying them to your soil, and allowing them to break down and share the nutrients with your soil. Also, the leaves can act as a mulch, so that your seeds and plants from the previous season are safe and protected from the harsh winters.
Are you ready for next spring?
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Want to learn more? Chat with a Mammoth Garden specialist or check out our website for more information.