December 9, 2008

Bedding down for the winter

It's the end of the growing season. Some things worked well and others did not. In an effort to have a fantastic garden come spring, we agreed to use the winter to prepare the soil so it will be in tip-top shape. Using Jerry Baker's Soil Casserole recipe, we began by pulling up all the plants and tossing them into the compost pile. Then we....

Covered the entire plot with newspapers. We've been collecting them all fall for just this purpose. The "recipe" says to use 2 to 4 inches of newspaper, but we didn't have quite that much - more like 1 inch. The newspapers help suppress weeds and attract good earthworms.

A few months ago our neighbor (Dusty the cat's family) had a truck full of compost delivered. The neighbor's only used a small amount and invited us to help ourselves. So we did! They were happy to get rid of it and we needed it so it worked out perfectly.

Wheel barrel full by wheel barrel full we moved the dirt from the neighbor's pile to our plot.

The first compost layer of the casserole was to be between 2 and 4 inches thick. There was plenty of compost so we were able to make it 4 inches deep.

Next was to be a layer of organic material. Lucky for us, our neighborhood is full of leaves. Tom was able to procure several bags from various neighbors. (You can see them in the upper left corner of this photo.) Here you can see the first three layers of the casserole: newspaper, compost, organic material.

We finished the first three layers two Saturday's ago.

This past weekend, we finished out the layers by topping the leaves with a 6 inch layer of compost.

Layers all done...
Only thing left was the topping. The soil casserole topping consisted of a can of Coke, ammonia, and instant tea granules.

And yes, it was pretty darn cold both weekends we worked on this. But we feel that it will be worth it when it's time to plant again. We're done for the winter and look forward to a true BOUNTY in the spring. After the holidays we'll start some seeds to get a head start on the spring planting season.