Have you harvested your last juicy red tomato? Coaxed the last few cucumbers from the vine? Don’t despair! Seize this opportunity to get your garden ready for growth that can last through the fall and into the early winter.
In many parts of the country, cooler temperatures bring out the best in a variety of crops, including: chard, kale, cabbage, beets, turnips, carrots, collard greens and Brussel sprouts. All are at their sweetest when grown during this time of the year.
The key to success is proper planning and soil management. Volcanic basalt rock, finely milled, is especially effective when applied to hardworking garden soil that may be suffering the effects of nutrient depletion. Naturally fast acting and long lasting, it mimics the slow process of the earth’s own method for producing healthy soil by releasing essential silica-based minerals and trace elements.
Some of the essential minerals and nutrients in volcanic rock dust that contribute to healthy plant growth include:
• Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg) – they regulate soil cation exchange capacity, which determines the availability of many other nutrients in the soil.
• Iron (Fe) – acts as a catalyst to chlorophyll formation. Many synthetic iron fertilizers are ineffective because the iron converts rapidly to unavailable forms. All-natural volcanic rock dust, like that in Cascade Minerals Remineralizing Soil Booster, steadily supplies iron to plants as they need it.
• Magnesium (Mg) – is the central atom in chlorophyll. Magnesium deficiencies frequently occur and are easily corrected with an application of all-natural rock dust.
• Silicon (Si) – improves plant structure and stress tolerance.
As organic gardeners will attest, rock dust helps improve the sweetness, flavor and nutrition of the food that you grow—at any time of the year. There’s no such thing as “too late” in the season to add rock dust to your soil. In fact, applying rock dust in the fall and winter helps ensure that rain and snow distributes nutrients deep into the soil where they will be readily available to soil microbes and plants in preparation for spring growth.
Here are a few other cool weather planting tips:
- If you are transplanting (versus growing plants from seed), expose plants to direct sunlight for a few hours every day for approximately one week before planting in the ground.
- When planting from seeds, it’s especially important to keep garden beds moist. Don’t assume that fall air moisture is enough to give germinating seeds the water they need.
- Harvest fall and winter crops frequently to stimulate new growth and extend the season.
- Protect plants from hard freezes. Common techniques include using layers of mulch, tarps, row covers and/or cold frames.
- Last but not least, if you choose not to plant a fall garden—at least consider planting cover crops. They’ll protect empty beds from erosion while infusing the soil with much-needed nutrients. In the spring, simply dig them back into the soil in preparation for a whole new season of abundance!