Outside temperatures are getting chilly and if you haven’t performed your final yard work, now is the time. There’s still time for one last mowing, trimming, raking, and mulching to get you through until the warmer days of spring. It sounds like a lot of work and it can be, especially if you do it all by yourself. But with a little help, you can turn the last day of working in your yard, into months of enrichment for your garden-sure to bring it to life when planting season rolls around.
One of the best ways to tell if you have rich, fertile garden soil is to-test it? Well, yes that’s one way but there’s an easier method. On a pleasant day when the soil warm, simply look at it. What do you see? Do you see the tiniest bit of movement? Is there anything living in your soil? If there’s no live habitat in your garden soil, what are the chances vegetation will thrive there as well?
What live things do you want in your garden besides what you’re trying to grow? There are numerous beneficial garden insects such as damsel bugs, ground beetles, lady beetles, lady bugs, green lacewings, praying mantis, syrphid flies, and orius. While these helpers help control unwanted insects that tend to destruct, there are other helpers that contribute to the soil by adding nutrients, porosity and detoxifying-these helpers are called worms.
Some people that have read what a remarkable difference a live habitat can make in a garden, order worms, ladybugs and the like from vendors. But if these friendly helpers do not already exist, the chances are good that once they are added to the garden they will relocate to an area more suitable for them to live and grow. Now where has your money gone?
The best thing you can do is amend your existing soil so that it will attract worms and beneficial insects. It’s easy, and it works. Soil amendments improve the soil by increasing the soils capacity to maintain water, nutrients and air; all make for a happy habitat for worms and insects.
The last and final mowing of your yard, bag or rake the clippings and add them to your garden. Spread it evenly so that the entire garden is covered equally. The same goes with raked leaves and/or mulch. All of these are excellent ingredients to help improve the condition and soil structure of your garden. Leaves and mulch act as insulators for both hot and cold weather and once incorporated into the soil prior to planting, they improve plants ability to breathe and obtain moisture, resulting in less stress. Once everything has been added, till or plough and let it rest for the winter.
As spring rolls around and the ground begins to warm, you are guaranteed to see more garden activity. The more organic material added, the busier your garden will become. While your garden rests for winter, so can you with your favorite gardening book or seed catalog, indoors where it’s cozy and warm.
Sources: Mother Earth News; Colorado State University Extension – Choosing a Soil Amendment