Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Fall Garden Prepares For Spring

Supplies to begin Lasagna method

In Southeast Texas we begin planning the fall garden in June. The main reason I love gardening in the south is because we get two growing seasons. Everything we do in our fall garden prepares us for a better spring garden. Improving the soil is number one on the list. Everything has become exhausted by the end of a long summer growing season. At the moment I'm working on what was our summer corn field. Corn is a heavy feeder and will deplete the soil of its valuable nutrients. Our corn for spring will not go in this same field. It is ever so important to rotate your crops when growing organically. Instead for fall we have planted Black-Eyed-Peas for canning and for helping put nutrients back in the soil. Plants like Beans and Peas put nitrogen in the soil, thus improving it.

Lay down wet newspaper

Nutrients are not my only concern however in replenishing a field. There are beneficial organisms that grow in the soil that I need to make sure grow back. One of the main concerns for me would be beneficial nematodes. If by chance we had any corn root worms, that would mean trouble in spring for cucumber beetles. Corn root worms are one type of larvae from six different species of cucumber beetle. The larvae feeds on the roots of corn. It was a great surprise to me when I learned that cucumber beetles come from the soil. The beneficial nematodes will actually kill the corn root worms and any other bad nematodes.Basically your crops will only be as good as your soil. I compare it to an artists paint brush. You can be the most wonderful painter, but your painting will be horrible if your brush is no good.

Cover wet newspaper with organic matter

After the field was cleaned out of all debris and weeds, the rows were turned by hand with compost added to them. The peas were then planted and mulched after they sprouted. What you are seeing me do now is a form of Lasagna Gardening. It is a simple method of layering all sorts of organic matter. I simply lay down newspaper and wet it to keep it from blowing away. On a breezy day that can take a little skill. This will aid in choking out weeds and troublesome Bermuda Grass as well as create the best mulch for your money. I then simply begin to rake in some more organic matter on top of the newspapers, which for me this time is composted leaves, pine needles and even a few pine cones.It's organic and natural. Just like what you might find on a forest floor. As a little time passes you can add another layer. In my case it will most likely be more compost made from kitchen scrapes and harvested left overs pulled from the garden chopped and turned in to make the sweetest most perfect soil.

Get a cute helper

If you are as lucky as me to have a day laborer such as my 3 year old grandson to help, you will find you have days with a few challenges to over come. But all in all it's a great blessing to behold by growing and teaching our future generations the organic and healthy way.

Happy Gardening!!

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