Does the soil sleep in winter?
Spoiler alert - No, the soil does not sleep in winter. However the microbes all slow down and scientists have measured a metabolic slowdown of 50% in the northern forests and arctic tundra. This makes sense, if the microbes stopped working in winter, natural plant growth would be slow to start in spring. In those northern forests with only a few growing months a slow start could be devastating to plant and therefore animal life.
Winter is a time of regeneration. The active soil life can store nitrogen, sulphur and other soluble minerals ready for massive growth requirements in spring. The decomposers can process larger organic molecules such as cellulose and lignin to store carbon. Since the products are stored as insoluble but available to plants and other soil life, they are largely immune to leaching.
What can we do?
Late Autumn provides the materials for recycling such as fallen leaves and other plant materials. In cold areas these materials are covered with snow to stop them being washed away by wind or water. To mimic nature we can crimp roll grasses or turn plant residues into intentional compost with hot Berkeley style piles, Johnson-Su active/static piles or worm processing.
Now is the time to ensure the soil has enough food and sufficient microbes to last over winter. Keep the soil covered wherever possible and minimise disturbance. Your animals can process materials into manure and spread this over grazing areas, being aware that overgrazing can slow plant growth. Add soil foods such as composts, humates, fish hydrolysate and kelp. A great way to do this is to apply compost teas and commercial microbes.
How can GroundGrocer.com help?
Compost Tea Brewers
Soil and Tea ingredients
New 100g packs available for Mycorrhizal Fungi and Trichoderma
For further information
Contact GroundGrocer.com 1 300 804 486 or email firstname.lastname@example.org