Soil Preparation: Cover Crops, Worm Castings, and More!
Celebrate the late winter warmth by getting a head start on preparing your soil as we inch our way towards the first day of spring this Saturday. Daylight savings is now behind us and our days are becoming longer and finally gifting most of us with plenty of warmth and sunshine to comfortably work the soil again.
While many grow zones are about ready to sow frost hardy root vegetables and cool leafy greens, take advantage if you can of any warmth during this final week of winter to give your starts the spring they deserve. Whether you need to finish tilling in a winter cover crop or looking to fortify the garden with organic worm castings or manure, don’t miss the opportunity to get the family excited about the coming spring by spending some quality time in the dirt.
Tilling in the winter cover crop is an ideal way to invite the kids to play in the dirt while teaching that they’re actually benefiting the soil for spring and summer. It’s a wonderful opportunity and so easy to explain to kids that there are some grasses such as wheat, rye, and triticale that thrive from being dug up and buried, while the grass in the front yard is best left untouched. If you happened to sow a Cover Crop Mix last winter, then you can take the moment to teach the differences between the several different varieties sprouting in the garden.
Worm castings, or vermicast, has got to be the easiest way to get the kids to help in the garden this spring. Worm castings from red worms and wigglers are rich with organic nutrients, minerals, and microbes and the basic science behind worm castings is fascinating to many adults, let alone inquisitive children. As believable as you might think, children are really receptive to the idea that earth has thrived for millions and millions of years on worm poop, the same stuff they’re helping mix into the garden box.
Fortifying your garden now before transplanting is always recommended to help reduce the use of commercial, synthetic, and liquid fertilizers. Although many fruiting and vegetable plants will benefit from periodical feedings throughout the season, planning a cover crop or late winter composting will minimize your vegetable garden’s dependence on fertilizers and insecticides while protecting their roots from chemical burn.
Whether a sprouter, microgreener, or gardener, we wish your family a happy season and hope you make it out into the sun this weekend as we all rejoice in the first day of Spring!
- David Bernal