Now that Summer is over and our thoughts turn to Christmas shopping, and whether we really want the mother-in-law (or father-in-law, for that matter) for Christmas lunch, we mustn’t forget our gardens, because we are parent, guardian, and mother-in-law to a piece of land that is not going to go on holiday, or gives us a break by having it’s own Christmas lunch. Your garden needs all the love it can get, and we can help by undertaking the following 5 best soil improvement tasks.
There’s a lot we can do to prepare the garden for winter, and ensure we keep it in tip-top condition ready for our 2020 planting campaign.
Use Autumn Leaves
Autumn leaves can be a real nuisance, clogging up drainpipes, getting all slippery underfoot, and generally making your garden look a mess. Well, fear not, there is a great solution that both get rid of the mess and improves your soil over the winter.
They make great compost
You can add them to your existing compost heap if you have one. Or you can start a new compost heap which is much simpler than you think:
Use four garden stakes with some old wood nailed to give it sides, and as long as it’s vaguely square it’ll do the job admirably.
Another great idea for storing your compostable items – don’t forget the coffee grounds, tea bags, and plate scrapings, is to use one of those builders merchants bags, you know the bags you see in driveways with sand in and Jewsons written on the side. They stand up pretty well on their own and hold either 500L or 1000L, which should take all your leaf mould and dinner leftovers for a few years.
When you’ve got your compost heap up and running, and it’s steaming nicely like it’s about to explode, here are few pointers to keep it breathing nicely before you start digging it in Spring 2020.
Get the hose on it – to keep the little bacterias fed and watered, and you may want to cover it up so it’s nice and toasty. You can use any old bits of cardboard, tarpaulin, or even old bits of cardboard. Covering your compost heap ensures the composting process carries on during the cold winter months.
You can add Chicken, Rabbit, or Hamster dung to speed things up a bit, plus any old animal bedding can be chucked in as well. Interestingly, one of the key ingredients of Wonderpost soil improver is animal bedding from our livery yard, Morley Farm Barn Livery.
Grow some Comfrey
Well, this is one we hadn’t heard of, a kind of grow your own speed injection. Comfrey speeds up the composting process, so if you’ve got a bit of space in a bed, pop some in and when it’s grown a bit just cut the stems and lay them own your compost heap in layers for a real boost.
Apparently Comfrey leaves make pretty good tea, not a tea for drinking, but for feeding your tomato plants.
Cut up some Comfrey leaves and put them in a container with a lid and leave them to rot for a couple of weeks. As the leaves decompose they leave a brown liquid called Comfrey Tea. Dilute this in the following proportions – one part Comfrey Tea to twenty parts water, and use in the same way you would water on tomato feed.
Dig a trench by digging down one spade depth, known as a spit, and put the soil on a tarpaulin. Break up the bottom of the trench with a garden fork and fill the bottom of the trench with compost around 6 to 8 inches deep. Then replace the soil to form a mound. As the compost continues to decompose, heat up, and leech into the soil the mound will go back to its normal flat self. This helps hungry vegetables like Brassicas to grow. Don’t plant Carrots or Parsnips as they don’t like the enriched soil.
Do double digging in the winter to give the soil time to settle.
A double digging tip
Dividing your vegetable garden into 8’ x 4’ beds makes double digging slightly less hard work.
Winter digging is valuable because it helps to break up the soil and brings pests such as slug eggs to the surface so the birds can eat them.
Using a garden fork turn the soil over WITHOUT breaking up any of the clods. As the ground freezes and thaws, the clods disintegrate to produce a fine tilth. The only thing you need to do after this is to rake and level the ground.
Winter digging tip
The golden rule when digging is not to tread on the soil, because your weight will compact it. Short scaffold planks are ideal for standing on and not too heavy to move.
Another method of incorporating leafy material into the ground is planting Green manure. Crops are sown in early to mid-autumn as scattered seed and germinate between autumn and spring.
Annual green manures are dug in when they reach 4 to 5 inches in height before they flower. They include mustards, grazing ryegrass, phacelia, and some clover mixtures.
Most green manures need to be left on the ground for more than a year because many of them are leguminous members of the pea and bean family. Their roots have nitrogen-fixing nodules. Lucerne or alfalfa, for instance, is left in the ground between two and four years. This technique is more useful on an allotment, or in a large garden, but more difficult if you’ve got a small plot.
And don’t forget that if you really want to give your growing a boost use Wonderpost Farm Fresh Compost the #1 soil improver
WONDERPOST ‘Farm Fresh’ Compost – 100% natural soil improver is a vintage blend of manure, farm animal bedding, and paddock sweepings, formulated and produced in the Suffolk Countryside and matured for over 3 years.
No bulking agents just 100% natural compost made with love, tea and biscuits in Hasketon Suffolk.
As the chief composter says “Wonderpost is the Champagne of compost”.
Whether you want a beautiful show garden or that prize Marrow just add Wonderpost to your borders and beds to supercharge your growing.
100% Peat FREE