Improving Your Soil Health During Winter
With winter creeping in on us it’s time to make sure that your soil is ready for the harsh winter temperatures. Doing so helps to ensure that your field is in good condition when springtime finally arrives.
Many people assume that once the temperature of the soil hits 45 degrees Fahrenheit, there isn’t anything that can be done to improve soil health, as the biological activity within the soil has slowed to a standstill. However, this is not the case; there are several things you can do to help improve your soil health during the bitter cold months of winter and into early spring.
First, wait to cultivate your soil. From nature’s perspective, the slow decay of the microscopic threads of fungus and mycelium left behind by roots, veggies, and weeds is a wonderful and nourishing thing. The last thing you want to do is disrupt this process. While this doesn’t mean you can’t dig out any nasty weeds, you want to make sure you have a good reason for disturbing the soil in this way during the winter months.
Secondarily, plant some winter cover crops. Fortunately for your soil, there a number of crops that can tolerate the cold and add valuable nourishment during the winter. There are several winter grains that are excellent at protecting the soil from erosion through winter and will develop huge root systems that will increase the organic matter content of the soil.
Lastly, put down some compost and cover your fields if you can. If your fields are going to sit idle until springtime, (you have no plans of planting a winter cover crop such as winter wheat or rye) your soil will greatly benefit from a generous amount of compost being heaped up and covered with a low row cover. Among other benefits, the compost and cover help to reduce erosion and soil compaction from the pounding rains of the season.
Protecting your soil from the harsh winter cold can be key to a successful harvest. Using a few of these simple steps, you can help protect your soil and improve its health during the winter months.
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