Once you’ve harvested all your fruit and veg, and the colour has gone from your flower beds, you might think it’s time to put up your gardening wellies and wait until spring. But there’s one thing you should do first: feed your soil. Strong, healthy soil needs nourishing and the best time to do it is now.
Soil is a living thing. Worms, insects, bacteria, algae, and fungi all coexist within it. They need to be kept in balance for soil to remain healthy. Without healthy soil, you won’t have healthy plants, because you’ll be feeding them a diet devoid of the vital nutrients they need – like not giving your child vegetables.
To ensure your soil is healthy, it needs to be properly fed. After the growing season, soil is tired and depleted. Much of its goodness will have been extracted from it by the plants and crops that’ve been growing in it. It rests during the autumn-winter period, making it exactly the time when you should be adding amendments designed to rejuvenate it. You need to replenish its microbial ecosystem – ensuring it contains lots of the beneficial bacteria and fungi that provide nutrients for plants during the growing season.
Here’s what we recommend you add to do that:
- Biochar: This eco-friendly charcoal is different from standard charcoal, as it’s made from the naturally-arising wood waste (not tropical forests!) and is baked in a kiln at lower temperatures, in the absence of oxygen. Due to its highly porous structure and large surface area, biochar is a great home for the beneficial micro-organisms that make soil fertile. However, we don’t recommend just adding it on its own, which is why we’ve created a Biochar Soil Booster. With our unique recipe of biochar, seaweed, comfrey tea and biodynamic compost preparations, it only needs to be dug into the soil once to improve its structure for the long-term. Even better, it has the added benefits of trapping carbon in the ground, thereby helping combat global warming. Made to the strictest environmental standards, you can buy some here.
- Compost: You can add our Biochar Soil Booster to compost and dig them both in together. Alternatively, you can dig in the Booster and then simply spread a layer of compost over the top, which you can leave over autumn-winter and dig in in the spring (if you do it this way, you might not need to mulch as well). The key is that you ensure your compost is rich, organic and full of nutrients (Here are some tips on making good compost.)
- Mulch: Mulching is essentially covering the soil in leaves, wood chips, sawdust or straw. The idea is to give your soil a chance to breathe. Mulches ensure moisture is retained. They also regulate soil temperature and prevent weed infestations, as well as reducing soil compaction and erosion. Spread the mulch about in a two to three inch layer (obviously not covering any plants) and take it off again in the spring, a few weeks before you start planting again – to allow the soil to be warmed up by the sun in preparation for the new growing season.