›› Alysha Punnett

Happy spring gardening season, everyone! Many of you will be underway in your gardens already, but here are a few tips to get your garden started off right.

Cover Crops

Now is the time to chop your cover crops if you haven’t already. For backyard ­gardeners, it can be difficult to dig in all that lovely green organic matter. I suggest placing some of it in your compost bin to cut down on the amount you’ll be digging into your soil. If you’ve planted a legume cover crop, turn the remainder of the tops and the roots into your soil and allow to decompose for a week or two. This allows all the nitrogen that has been fixed to be released back into the soil, making it ready for your first spring planting.

Compost and Manures

Harvest your backyard composter and spread 1-2 inches over your beds a week or two before planting. It is good to do this in advance of planting as it allows the microbes from the compost and your ­garden soil to interact and create a new ecosystem ready to support your plants.

You can also prepare beds with the same amount of well-aged manure. Chicken and horse manure should be aged for at least 3 months in order to not “burn” plants from their high nitrogen content. If you don’t have that kind of time, llama or alpaca manure can be used fresh. Often local manures can be found for cheap through a UsedVictoria search.

In the spirit of spring and soil, The Compost Education Centre would like to invite you to our annual fundraiser For the Love of Soil! April 11th at the Fernwood Inn: beer, good eats, a sweet silent ­auction and live music, yahoo! Tickets and more info can be found on our ­Eventbrite page.