We spent 3 days total working on the back field garden getting it prepped for the winter and next springs planting. Our neighbor came by with his brush cutter and mowed the entire field for us as well minus a couple small sections. In this blog we explain just how we prep the garden and add nutrients to our soil to replenish it and build up the soil.
These are the tools we used to get the job done.
- pitchfork 2. shovel 3. rake 3. three buckets 4. tiller
Here is a slide show of the garden BEFORE we started work…
We mowed around the garden and pulled out any remaining plants and weeds etc…
Next we added hay. Hay helps to aerate the soil and break it up keeping it from getting hard and allowing it to stay somewhat loose. It also decomposes over time adding nutrients to the soil.
Then we added a layer of 50% sand and 50% sifted dirt. The sand helps to keep the soil loose for root vegetables and drainage while the sifted dirt adds to the bulk. We started by dumping buckets of it down the middle then later raking it to spread it out.
And now we till those layers into the ground and mix it all up good. We want to get the old soil nice and broken up while mixing in the new hay, sand, and dirt.
Now we add the aged horse manure. This is roughly 900lbs of old horse poo that has been composting over summer at our neighbors horse barn and for the last few weeks in our field.
Next up is adding 36 month old humanure. Don’t worry it is no longer poop and is well past the safe to use date of 24 months. You would never even know it ever came out mine and Addie’s rear ends if we hadn’t told you 😉
We add it to the top of the garden since we don’t have enough to spread throughout the whole garden. This way over time the nutrients it provides for the garden will enrich it as a whole as it rains and flushes the nutrients down the slight slope to the bottom of the garden.
Sawdust time! By adding sawdust we enable the soil to hold more water like a sponge but not in such a way that would cause puddling or root rot. Adding sawdust is sort of like Hugle Kulture where in you would bury woods like oak and maple etc… and as the decay they absorb water and release nutrition. Plants would be able to send their roots into the decaying wood to absorb what they need in dry spells. The sawdust does something similar by holding in small amounts of water all throughout the soil instead so the plant roots don’t have to grow as far to find their resources. Sawdust is best for plants that are short term and Hugel Kulture is great for those long term plants. Both ways the wood provides water in dry times and nutrients as it decays.
Another round with the tiller to mix the humanure, horse manure, and sawdust together thoroughly.
I also till a 15×15 square section of field in hopes we can get some corn growing there next summer. We will have to get some more horse manure quickly before it snows and spread it out over this site and then next spring run the tiller over it again. Hopefully though we will have good luck in getting some corn to grow like we did this year though.
We also intend to extend the electric fence around this section as well in the spring. Time and money permitting we will add deer netting around the corn garden the same as we did the main garden to.
I now rake out the garden be to ensure there are no hidden lumps and to smooth it out.
Addie and I finish off by removing the bird netting from the roof so it doesn’t catch snow and ice over winter causing everything to collapse. Then we cover the garden soil with black felt to prevent any new growth from unwanted plants and to keep out seeds blown in by the wind come next spring. We used tires and pallets to hold it down.
Next spring we will carefully remove the tires and pallets. Then slowly roll up the felt so not to dump any grass and weed seeds into the garden. We will replace the bird netting on the roof area and release the chickens to do their thing for a day or two.
Once the chickens are done scratching around and eating any stray insects and seeds etc… we will add this summers chicken manure to the soil and till the dirt one last time. Then we plant.
Here is the view with everything completed…
Now what to do with these old corn stalks?
Hope you enjoyed the video and pictures. Come by next spring to see what we plant 🙂