After a year of spreading horse manure on the garden and letting the sheet mulch cardboard underneath disintegrate, we are about ready to plow the top layer of aged manure into the “soil” and fence in the site! YEY!!!
In preparation for the fencing we are erecting a small hoop house, 7 feet wide x 20 feet long, for storage of tools and fence materials. We will plow before fencing this month and plan to put in a few vegetables on the southwest corner where soil is better (after fencing).
The rest of the garden will be cover cropped with at least three courses of buckwheat through the summer months, then daikon radishes seeded in the fall to be tilled into the soil in the spring of 2020. These large, very robust root crops will provide soil cover through the winter. They also scavenge nutrients, suppress weeds and alleviate compaction. The soil at this site is very compact and heavy with a high percentage of silt, gravel and cobbles, and not much organic matter. The large, white roots of daikons can bio-drill down three-feet, with 3-inches of diameter. After they winter-kill, the large roots desiccate, and the channels created by their roots tend to remain open at the soil surface, improving infiltration and surface drainage deeper into the soil profile. Hopefully, this process will improve root growth of subsequent crops in the summer of 2020.
It has been a long process, but hopefully we will have less dense, more friable soil by the summer of 2020 and the ability to begin good vegetable production.