Despite the historic snow and record low temps, spring is here! Buds are bursting from formerly dormant branches, our traveling bird friends are returning, and little bits of green are popping from the cold earth.
This long winter has got me itching to be outside in the garden. I can’t wait to spread some seeds and plant new perennials in our developing food forest!
Last fall, I left most plants standing. It’s important to have living roots in the soil for as long as northern-humanly possible. In my garden the kale stayed green into late December, sending photosynthetically-produced energy down into the soil. During that time the kale plants were feeding hardy microbes in residence around their roots. I covered any bare spots with fallen leaves, wood chips, or straw. This mulch both protects the soil physically and is also another food source for overwintering microorganisms.
As soon as the ground dries out a bit, I’ll remove the blanket mulch layers and plant in those bare spots right away. All of that mulch material can be composted and used again in the fall in its recomposed form, which will be full of soil food web organisms and nutrients for the plants!
If you’ve been composting with worms indoors this winter, it’s a great time to make an extract with some of the finished worm manure. Here’s my process for such endeavors:
- Wait for the perfect sunny, warm morning when the birds are chirping and the neighborhood is feeling peaceful.
- Grab a 5 gallon bucket full of non-chlorinated water, a stirring branch, and a few pounds of vermicompost.
- Add a little sea kelp, biochar, or fish hydrolysate at the beginning or the end of this process to give your microbes and your plants a little boost in the form of food and habitat.
- Mix the compost into the water creating a strong vortex, mindful of the energy in the water and the life in the compost.
- Keep stirring, and gently create some chaos by reversing direction every so often, and do this for as long as you can. A couple minutes are perfectly sufficient, but longer is better if you are able and feeling connected to the process.
- Apply this powerful concoction directly to the soil in a watering can or clean garden sprayer.
- Thank the soil for the life it gives and embrace the day.
I learned this process from a farmer in Colombia and will always remember the serenity of that morning and hope to forever emulate the thoughtful approach he took to making these biological soil medicines.
Kassie from Renaissance Soil