Remember, gardeners, that the next meeting of the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be on Thursday, April 24 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sunshine Room at SIGN on North Street. Our special guest will be Karen Leis talking to us about vermiculture and composting with worms.
Did you see the red moon last week? I did go outside at about 3:15 a.m., and saw a bit of the eclipse, but not the bright red moon that I was anticipating. The following day, I heard that Saskatchewan did not see much color because of the overcast conditions. Maybe next time!
We will be lucky enough to see three more lunar eclipses in the next year and a half: having four in a cluster like this is called a tetrad. So mark your calendars for the next three coming up on October 8, 2014; April 4, 2015; and September 28, 2015. After that, we won’t see four in a row like that for twenty more years.
I have a great book called “Joy Of Gardening” by Dick Raymond. Part of the book talks about “green manure”. What is green manure? Green manure is when we till green plants back into our gardens. You can also sow plants like annual ryegrass, alfalfa or buckwheat specifically for the purpose of green manure. These are called “cover crops”: We would plant them, and once they have grown, turn them back into the soil.
Why would we do this in our gardens? Mr. Raymond says that “organic matter is the key to creating a rich soil, but you must realize that it is always temporary. From the moment you mix organic matter in the soil, you start to lose it… Once you’ve got a big crew of earthworms and bustling soil life working in your soil, don’t lay them off. Feed your soil and soil life with a series of green manure crops.” He lists nine benefits for using green manure crops to enrich our gardens. I’ll list them briefly for you.
Green manure is easy to use: a few pounds of buckwheat seed will give many pounds of plant matter in just six weeks or so. Green manure crops are very beneficial for sandy soils, loosening them up so that moisture is retained in the soil. Green manure crops give a lot of organic matter to the soil, which attracts earthworms and beneficial bacteria to the soil. Green manure crops can work wonders to loosen and lighten heavy clay soil (he recommends buckwheat for this kind of soil problem). Green manure can cover your soil and help erosion from wind or water. Plants like beans or peas are green manure crops that are fine fertilizer, providing more nitrogen than other plants. Green manure crops that grow quickly can smother weeds; again, buckwheat is listed as a good choice. Green manure crops insulate the soil from summer’s heat and from winter’s cold: good news for the earthworms that are busy making our soil better! And at number nine, green manure roots go deep into the soil and bring up nutrients that have been hiding there, and when we turn over the plants, the nutrients are more accessible in the topsoil.
Maybe we can’t seed our whole garden to a cover crop, but it can’t hurt to make ourselves more aware of putting organic matter back into the soil to help our soil health. Every bit helps!
Yesterday was Earth Day; good for you if you did something special to mark the day! But as gardeners, you and I are always aware of caring for the earth. So let’s hope that soon we can be out in our yards or on our patios, savoring the fresh spring air and the sights and sounds of nature!