Winter is coming! In Texas that means that we still have a few days of 70 degree weather left, or does it? We did just have a slight freeze come thru last week and kill my mixed peppers and remaining tomato plants. However, I do have just a bit more time to play in the garden without freezing my toes off. So what does my wife have on her LITTLE honey-do-list for me this week? She wants to turn one of our garden beds into a greenhouse so she can grow spinach all winter. I don’t even like spinach, but my wife and daughter eat so of course I’ll do it.
It will be our first attempt at a greenhouse so I will have to do some research on the idea before I actually begin. Until then I will just need to prepare my garden soil for planting our new crop of winter veggies as well as future plants in the spring.
To do this I will be trying something else I have never tried before. I am attempting a new technique of soil preparation others readers have been asking about on multiple blogs. The technique will combine composting and soil preparation into one process. I like to think of it as composting made easy. Currently, I have a compost bin that we have been filling all summer, but this time I will let my garden bed do the work for me. By this I mean that I am going to bury some compostable materials under the soil and let the nutrients release straight into the garden during the season.
Less work for me in the long run, and who doesn’t like less work?
There are just a few key elements to composting that you should always keep in mind. Those elements are browns, greens, water and oxygen. “Browns” (carbon-rich material) – leaves, coffee grinds, egg shells, sawdust, bark, or fruit scraps. “Greens” (nitrogen-rich materials) – food scraps, vegetable peels, lawn clippings, poultry manure, or garden waste. “Water” – This stuff takes up 71% of the Earth’s surface, so use it. “Oxygen” – aerate your soil or compost bin.
The ratio of browns to greens I will be trying is 2 parts brown to 1 part green. The greens will come from our left over summer crops of tomato and pepper plants as well as an unsuccessful crop of carrots. The browns are simply going to be the leaves that have fallen off our trees added with some coffee grinds.
With that being said, here is what I did to get my garden bed soil ready for the next round of crops*.
- Removed all the current soil and placed it to the side to be reused.
- Spread the unsuccessful crops (carrots, tomato and pepper plants), as well as a few stems with green leaves from a tree in my chicken coop area, evenly across the bottom of the beds.
- Then I raked some leaves from my yard, and I made a layer of dead leaves over the green plants then sprinkled it with coffee grinds (the bark from the stems will also count as a brown).
- Next I added a little bit of compost I already had working from the summer months.
- Finally, I replaced all the dirt I removed during step 1.
Although this process seems easier than using a compost bin I will still have some work to do. Because composting also needs moisture and water I will need to assure I keep the garden watered and occasionally introduce oxygen by penetrating the soil with a spading fork.
Like I mentioned before this is simply a test. So I am going to keep you informed on how my garden does during the winter months once I get that greenhouse built. Luckily I have already built the frame, but now the soil is ready to go too.
As they say on TV, “Stay tuned for the next episode to see what happens next!”