What are some tips on preparing garden soil organically in the winter for planting in the spring?
adding blood meal, bone meal and lime can help the soil. Also adding compost. That is the real organic biggy.
You can add humus by tossing grass clippings along the rows during the growing season and use as a mulch, and then turn it under with the soil in winter. Leaves are acidic so if you rake leaves and add be sure to check the acid level. Adding compost is always a good idea.
Adding compost is always good along with worm castings and Sul-Po-Mag- a blend of sulphur, magnesium, and potash. If your soil is compacted, add gypsum. Apply the fertlizers first, water well, then mulch around the plant with 3" of compost and leaf mulch if available. Don't pile mulch around the center stem , go our 6".
If the area is bare, add compost and worm castings then consider planting a cover crop that helps fix nutrients and keeps the soil loose & friable. Seeds are availble for oats, buckwheat, peas, and barley.
I cover the intended planting area by anchoring down black plastic. This will prevent seeds and weeds from emerging, and saves some labor on your part later on. The black plastic heats up the soil and kills off soil-borne diseases. This heated soil enables you to get an earlier start in springtime when you want to plant the area also. Cool night might still exist, so if you start early, you might have to protect tender plants with a cover in the evening. It is a good method to 'jump-start' your garden beds.
spreading manure on the intended growing area gives the manure times to compost. While the many of the nutrients will leach out before the planting season depending on when you spread it it still provides plenty of organic matter which increases cation exchange capacity.
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