We have been still able to keep doing some gardening. I have more energy than in several years and it is enjoyable for me to be able to do some real physical work.

I got some peas planted. I would have planted them when I did the other veggies but the place I bought the peas at didn’t have any inoculant.  Legumes benefit from being inoculated with nitrogen fixing bacteria that lives symbiotically with the legumes and fix atmospheric nitrogen into nodules on the roots that the legumes can use to grow.

The bacteria may exist naturally  in the soil but a treatment assures maximum benefit earliest. I had to look several places before I found some at Southern States Co-0p in Moundsville.

We had 10 cubic yards of compost delivered. A local farmer makes it with 70% cow dung and 30% sawdust. It comes in perfect condition, almost but not quite finished composting, so it goes into the soil with maximum biotic life, the fire of digestion still burning. As the saying goes, decaying organic matter is the engine that drives soil fertility. That is worth repeating, decaying organic matter is the engine that drives soil fertility. That should be the mantra of anyone doing any work with the soil and growing plants.

We spread it where we are going to plant the berries. We had some unseasonably dry weather so were able to get it  incorporated into the soil by  rototiller. It has to be dry because the clayey soils we have here lose structure and get compacted if worked when wet.  That is how bricks are made — take clay, add water  and work it wet.  The structure of the soil collapses if worked wet and it takes years for freeze thaw cycles to get it back in shape.

I had spread wood ashes over the whole garden including the berry areas.  We heat with wood and save the ashes to fertilize the garden.  This provides a lot of trace minerals brought up by the roots of the trees.

Additionally I spread some rock phosphate  with the compost except where the acid loving plants will go.  The soils here are low in natural phosphate which is essential for good bud initiation. It is the P of the NPK of chemical fertilizers.  We get the N 9notrogen) from compost and nitrogen fixers, and K (potash0 from the cow manure and wood ashes.

Phosphate binds to soil and doesn’t migrate down into the feeder roots so top dressing isn’t effective, it has to be incorporated, thus it was a great opportunity to get to work it into where the berries will be planted.

I didn’t put it where the acid lovers will go because it has a neutralizing effect. I spread aluminum sulfate there instead to lower the pH. Blueberries, lingonberries and cranberries like it acid and I have limed the garden in the past.  I really should have gotten a soil test but feel quite certain that my educated guesss that it needed acidifying is correct.

After everyting was worked in, I threw the dirt from the paths up onto the wide berry beds. The garden has a bit of a slope so when finished it is actually terraced.  I made a ridge along the downhill side so even after the soil settles it will still have a lip to catch rainwater.

Now we are just waiting for the plants to arrive which should be the first week in April.