Soil Testing and Nutrient Retention
Check your soil pH and nutrient content before deciding on the layout of your garden next season.
Remember to practice crop rotation and to fertilize with something like chicken or turkey manure in between plantings so this part of your Winter will be simple.
If you are insufficient in any particular nutrient, find an organic way to return that nutrient to the soil over time. Don’t go for the fast fixes with chemical fertilizers as they cause irreparable harm to the environment and everything living on it. For example, a layer of finished compost, sprinkled with composted chicken fertilizer and leaf mulch should have your beds performing well. Chicken Manure has the absolute highest content of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium of all the animal manures. Poultry Manure contains each of the 13 nutrients that are used by plants. These nutrients are Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Sulfur, Copper, Zinc, Chlorine, Boron, Iron, and Molybdenum. Strike a deal with a local chicken farmer or purchase manure by the bag. Go light, as composted manure alone may burn the plants. Since it’s winter, be sure to mix it with a layer of finished compost and covered by leaf mulch or a landscape tarp such as a Silage Tarp.
Taking Care of Animals and Infrastructure
With that said, it is time to turn your attention to any of the auxiliary inputs your farm or garden may have. Animals provide many benefit other than just consumption. From chicken tractoring, invasive pest management, and general cultivation and fertility aids, I have seen chickens serve numerous purposes that don’t involve being eaten so they are a high-priority if you have them. I do not have any animals but I will say, this is a great time to check your fences and make sure there aren’t any items left out to be damaged by the cold weather.
Plan your Garden
Spend a lot of timing focusing on what you want to grow next season. What have you grown well before in the past and is that working for you and your farm? Is there a crop not worth your time anymore?
Here are a few other things to consider when planning your garden now that you are prepared for the winter.
Is the biodiversity on my garden satisfactory?
Is there a particular pest I had a problem with last year, during a certain week?
Is there room for utilizing the edges of your garden for pollinator friendly flowers and herbs to help increase garden fertility?
Planning and being effective over the winter months is a way to ease the beginning of the following season. The more thought you put into this step, the more likely you will be to solve any problems that may arise. Winter preparation is a necessary if you want to come out swinging in early spring.