Building our Soil

Over the past two weeks I’ve been slowly but surely double digging planting beds and getting winter cover on the soil. Crimson clover was broadcast as green manure where peppers, cucurbits, and corn will be planted next spring. The clover emerged quickly and is doing really well in our soil; it will be turned under early next spring to add organic matter and nitrogen.

Fava Beans were planted where the tomatoes will be going. These beans pull micro nutrients up from deep within the soil, add nitrogen through their root system, add organic matter to the soil, and repel soil nematodes. This is our first year to plant them.

Five of the eight apple tree beds have been double dug. The soil in these beds is extremely hard – like cement even – so we’ve decided to work the soil for one year to loosen and aerate it, then plant the apple trees in December of 2012. It would have been really nice get them in the ground now but the soil just isn’t ready. By waiting we’ll have time to loosen the soil and dig the beds deeper, add lots of organic matter and nitrogen, and allow plenty of time for the slow-release fertilizers to break down and feed the soil. 

Three pecan trees and two sugar maples will be planted this year, probably next month. The pecan beds are all cleaned and will be double dug next week. By double digging them we loosen the soil for better water and air flow and remove weeds from a substantial area around the young trees. The maple trees will not be planted in beds, they do really well here without all the extra work.

   

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