How to Prep Your Soil for Spring•
Posted on January 05 2021
Soil is made up of five components: minerals, gases, water, organic material, and living organisms.
As temperatures decrease during winter months, some of these living organisms, including tiny soil microbes, go into hibernation, decreasing the fecundity of the soil.
Fortunately, there are ways you can cultivate healthier soil this winter for better results in the spring! But first, we'll need to explain a few things about the ecosystem inside your soil.
Why is Soil Health Important?
Healthy soil has proper pH levels, a plethora of essential nutrients, and a texture that allows permeability as well as water retention.
Plants depend upon healthy soil, because it provides them with easier access to air, water, and nutrients.
Living organisms including earthworms, insects, and soil microbes, have a symbiotic relationship with plant life, and a big part of that is what these life forms do for the structure of the soil.
What Happens to Soil Health in the Winter?
Although winter soil is still teeming with life, biological activity slows as some of the tiniest life forms go into hibernation.
Some of these beneficial organisms will die off completely if preventative measures are not taken.
One of the affects of decreased biological activity and wintry weather is that the ground gets too compact.
When this happens, it becomes necessary to restore the texture of the soil.
How Can you Build Soil Health in the Winter?
Add Soil Amendments
When tilling winter soil, it may be necessary to add soil amendments.
Although fertilizers will provide nutrients for your future plants, fertilizers that also serve as soil amendments actually improve the structure of the your soil.
Last year's crops likely depleted the ground of certain nutrients, which is why fertilizer is needed.
There's a difference between feeding your plants and cultivating the soil, and you need to do both.
Choose the Right Fertilizer
Tilling in fertilizers that contain ingredients such as gypsum will improve the structure and water filtration capability of your soil.
This indirectly improves plant growth by benefiting soil microbes and earthworms.
You can't see those soil microbes, but a large population of earthworms in the spring is a sure sign that your soil was well maintained over the winter.
Not only are earthworms a sign of healthy soil, but they also play a major role in improving the structure and fertility of the soil.
When you attract plenty of earthworms, they in turn improve water filtration with their tunneling and beneficial excrement.
Earthworms eat certain compounds in the soil and then excrete them in the form of castings.
Worm castings contain humus and other beneficial ingredients and have been called the super food of the plant world.
The way to attract earthworms is by providing healthy soil to begin with.
Worms love freshly tilled soil with plenty of organic matter and mulch to eat.
Practice Winter Mulching
Mulching in the winter helps protect beneficial microbes and will visibly increase the earthworm population in your soil.
Another benefit of winter mulching is that it protects the soil from compaction and erosion.
Using fall leaves as mulch is one way to save money on mulch.
If you have trees in your yard, those leaves are free for the raking.
Whether you are planting winter crops or preparing for a spring garden, cultivating healthy soil with plenty of active soil microbes is essential.
We offer a large selection of fertilizers, including fertilizers that serve as soil amendments. You can shop some of these below!
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