It’s winter, I know, but it’s time to think about your 2016 garden!

Winter Gardening
IslandGirlWrites talks winter gardening

It’s winter, I know, but it’s time to think about your 2016 garden!

Carrots in Garden

Been dreaming of finally having a wonderful little garden all your own? Nothing compares to the joy you can have going outside to harvest fresh vegetables and herbs for a gloriously healthy family meal.
As winter sets in it’s time to plan a few things. Where will you put your garden? In the backyard , on your deck or will you finally get together with friends and plant a few rows together at Uncle Johnny’s farm. No matter what you plan–you have to get ready!

Over-winter your Soil
Over-wintering is just like marinating a steak. Preparing your soil now, allows it to percolate over winter. When Spring comes, your soil will have been enriched and enhanced-ready for your seeds and seedlings. The best advice is to turn the soil once, right now, then fertilizer and plant a cover crop. Turning the soil involves either tilling, raking, shoveling, or doing it by any means necessary. If you plan to use bagged soil, go ahead and pour it wherever you plan to plant in the spring. Even if you’re going to use big pots on your deck, fill them up now and follow this plan. After you have the soil loose enough to work with (or poured into your pots), that’s when you add the amendments. Amendments simply means bolstering the soil with nutrients that will melt into the soil-sort of like the marinade for that steak. Since there’s a ready supply of fallen leaves on the ground, just start with that! Hand tear or shred leaves for best results. Leaves amend the soil as they decompose over winter.
Next, fertilize your little plot. Hand spread 10-10-10. This is a fertilizer you buy in a bag.
Just spread the 10-10-10 and your shredded leaves on the soil like confetti and lightly turn both into your soil. It’s just like adding vitamins.

Ever wonder what that 10-10-10 means? It’s simple-it’s the concentration of three elements. 10% Nitrogen, 10% Phosphorous and 10% Potassium. A plant needs a good bit of nitrogen when it’s putting down roots, a good bit of Phosphorous while it is flowering, and a good bit of Potassium when it is putting out it’s fruit. So you’d choose a fertilizer that has the largest number that coincides with where you are in your plant’s development. 10-10-10 gives it a nice smattering of all while it is over-wintering.

Some avid gardeners recommend planting a cover crop. Cover crops simply hold the soil to prevent washout from winter rains and melting snow. These cute little crops will provide nitrogen to the soil and will be turned into the soil in spring giving it a nutrient boost before you plant. Common cover crop seeds to strew over your garden are hairy vetch, rye, clover or alfalfa. Some call them deer plot seeds. Just cast seeds out there and lightly rake to be sure they mix into the top half inch of soil then water lightly. As your cover crop rises just think of them as little Green Garden Fairies who are sprinkling your garden soil with fairy dust! Don’t forget to water lightly every two weeks, if no rain. Come spring, till this crop into the soil and in about a week you’ll be ready to plant!

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