I cannot remember the last time, if ever, I've had the good fortune of being able to work in the garden in December, December 20th at that. What an absolute treat for me to not have any snow this time of year. Last year we had a historical record of snow for this month (60'), starting December 16th I believe. So yesterday I was out and about in the garden prepping the soil for next season by adding composted chicken manure mixed with bean pods and straw to our rows. The ground had thawed and with the days rain had become a mucky muddy mess but I will take that over numerous feet of snow that make any gardening impossible. Perhaps we will enjoy an El Nino after all.
Row mulched with manured bean pods under which are the remains of our parsnip bed
I am once again focused on enriching our soil through a form of sheet mulching. Before winter I pulled up all of the remaining plant materials, broke them up a bit, and distributed amongst the garden rows. According to Emilia Hazelip, whose superb gardening video I have recently listed under a picture on my side bar, plants synthesize from light and only receive a small portion of their mass from the soil. The rest comes from air and light and if left in the garden to decompose will give back much more to the soil then they take out.
Is this true? I'm not sure but it certainly worked for us this past season and is a method that fits nicely into our garden scheme. Will leaving the plants remains in our garden cause a carry over of disease? I don't know, but I do know that so far we have never had any disease issues in the garden. Bugs yes, disease never. We usually follow this procedure by adding compost in the spring but I am more then happy to use this snow free Christmas present to get started a little early giving the bean pods and straw extra time to break down in the soil.
In this section we had corn that was diced up and left. It will eventually be covered with compost that will aid in its decomposition.
The below rows were home to cole crops. We chopped up and left any bad leaves and roots behind and have begun to cover with a straw chicken manure mulch.