Putting the garden to bed for the winter

Garden after rototilling

Our garden soil texture is a loam made up of 34% sand, 42% silt, and 24% clay. The soil pH is 5.7, much less acidic than the soil in the fields which had pH values ranging from 4.9 to 5.1.  Nevertheless, we added 25 pounds of pelletized lime this fall to help sweeten the garden soil.

The garden has more organic matter in it than the fields, and this is not a surprise because garden residue has been incorporated by tilling for several years.  Nutrient values are much higher than the soil in the fields, so substantially less nutrients need to be added to the garden.

At the end of August, we sampled the garden soil and planted fast-growing buckwheat. Tilling in the buckwheat adds organic matter to the soil, improving the texture and growing capacity of the soil. We tilled the garden on October 18 and 19, 2013.

For a winter cover crop, we planted oats and hairy vetch from Territorial Seed Company.  The oats should be killed by cold temperatures, and the vetch should add some additional nitrogen to the garden.  Since it was so late in the season, we also tossed in some cover crop mix from Wilco.  That mix includes: buckwheat, rye, Austrian winter peas, common vetch, and Dutch white clover.

Come spring, we’ll till the garden again before planting.