This 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.