Putting the Gardens to Bed, Fed and Covered


100_9903This fall has been exceptionally mild in Vermont, giving us more time than usual to finish all the details of putting the gardens to bed.  This is our third season of soil testing with Logan Labs doing a saturated paste test which analyzes the balance of a variety of macro and micro nutrients in our soil.  We’ve been adding mineral amendments every fall trying to correct the deficiencies in our soil and have been seeing improvements in our soil tests as well as plant health.  We like to amend in the fall with the solid minerals that we need such as humates, gypsum, greensand, granite dust, sea salt, and trace minerals (zinc, copper, molybdenum, cobalt, manganese, and selenium), giving the soil life some time to digest and incorporate these nutrients as crop residues are breaking down.  During the growing season we support crops with foliar sprays that also contain these nutrients to make up for any leaching and provide quick access to growing plants.  On top of the minerals we’d like to put a layer of compost, but this fall we had a hard time finding a high quality and affordable source- so we’ll make up for this missing layer in the spring.  We generally leave any remaining crop residue in place to give back to the soil it came from, chopped with a machete if needed.  Then everything is covered with as much mulch as we can access, afford and have time to gather.  Mostly that means a layer of hay, but for the beds closest to the house we also covered beds with a nice layer of forest leaves from the class 4 non-travelled road just beyond our neighborhood.  It feels good to know that soil is fed and covered for the winter, protected from excess rain or wind.  There is a cacophony of life carrying on just below the surface.


Dragging tarp loads of leaves from the “road” to the gardens, note that we cover all leaves with a thin layer of hay on top to keep them from blowing away when they get dry in the spring


Mulched beds 


The laying hens have entered their winter hoop housing.  They work in any remaining crop residue and weeds, then we’ll be throwing in hay, sprouts and food scraps every week to make a nice layer of compost for them to scratch through.


Willow spends a lot of time in this position.  She is an avid rodent hunter and she assumes there is something under all hay even if we just put it down!


The terraces also get mulched, and also layers of pea shoot mats after harvest.  A whole winter’s worth of tray remnants adds up to a nice layer of additional soil in the spring.

This entry was posted in Farm updates, No-till Farming, nutrient dense growing, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Putting the Gardens to Bed, Fed and Covered

  1. Holly says:

    Ben Falk recently did an interesting piece on getting nearby tree companies to dump chips on his property. He seems to have yards and yards, which when mixed properly with nitrogen breaks down into amazing compost; or can be used as-is as mulch.


  2. Pingback: Putting the Gardens to Bed, Fed and Covered | Peace of Earth Farm | WORLD ORGANIC NEWS

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