Protect the ground

 Leaving a floor bare for several months is contraindicated. The latter is then exposed to strong winds and heavy rains which inevitably degrade its structure and quality.

During the winter season, this consideration is even more important, because the erosion factors of the soil are extreme and nothing grows for the protection. In Quebec, snow adequately protects the surface of the ground during the winter, but in the spring, when this snow melts and the soils are saturated with water, runoff can cause serious problems with leaching and loss of fertility. This is why it is important to always be well “Close” its gardens before winter. We can do it with a crop residue left in place, a tarpaulin ground cover, or a green fertilizer that is planted late to provide vegetation cover on the soil surface. Better a cover of two centimeters than nothing at all. Thus, we will find well-loosened soil in the spring rather than a crust. hard on the surface.


The ideal scenario is to succeed in sowing any cereal at least six weeks before the first big jelly. That leaves enough time so that the root system of the plant is enough developed to allow its growth. A seedling of ryegrass made before November will continue to grow despite the cold autumn and will resume in spring. But sometimes it is impossible to sow before winter and we then turn to a very early spring plant cover. A mix of peas-oats can, for example, be sown immediately that the snow begins to disappear (usually at the beginning of April on our site) to be incorporated into the soil eight weeks later, in time for the start of certain seedlings in the ground.


In all scenarios, we sow the crops cover at a very high density so that it quickly protects the soil surface.


Prevent the proliferation of weeds

Organic market gardeners often establish meadows to break the cycle of weeds in their fields over a long period. In our gardens, this option is less possible given the lack of space. To take advantage of their repressive effect on grass cover, we instead use green manures as a crop ground cover between two successive sowings or, again, when we know that a board will remain free for a long time.


In the middle of the season, our favorite “stopper” is buckwheat, a plant that, in less than a month, forms a plant cover dense enough to suffocate weeds. This solution is more complicated than installing a tarp and less effective than a false seedling, but this is often the option that we prefer. While offering magnificent flowers with bees, the buckwheat fertilizer increases the biological activity of the soil. Its young soft and green fabrics are a real treat for microorganisms, which are stimulated. On more than one occasion we have seen this effect strengthening on the next crop.


Buckwheat is not the only useful green manure against weeds. No matter any species, or any mixture of species, can have the same effect provided it manages to form a dense vegetation cover more quickly than some early grasses grow. Density plays an important role in this process, and this is the reason why we sow all of our green manures with sowing rates 5 to 10 times higher than the general recommendation. We judge that it is a lot more profitable to spend more on seeds than spending time weeding green manure.


Give leave to a plot (the fertilizer season green)

Although this has never happened to us before, we may one day decide not to cultivate part of our gardens for a season whole (why wouldn't farmers take a sabbatical year?). If this choice is motivated by a lack of time or manpower, I suggest opting for green manure that can be mow without dying and that can continue growing over a long period. I would choose to plant white clover which brings a lot of nitrogen to the soil and which requires little maintenance, only a few annual mowing. On the other hand, the clover is a species that grows slowly and, to make sure weeds don't have the time to set up, I would sow at the same time a cover crop, which would establish itself a lot faster. At the first mowing, the cereal will die, leaving the clover the opportunity to adequately cover the surface of the ground.


If the main reason for planting fertilizer green is not to give up the soil, but rather to improve its quality, my strategy would then be to plant two different green manures, interspersed with a fallow. A pea-oat mix sown very early in spring would be incorporated in June before another oat-common vetch green manure is sown no later than mid-August, then left as mulch during the winter months. The period between the two cultures would be used to make false seedlings and rid the soil of the more large number of dormant seeds possible.