Soil conditioning in February?

Asked February 17, 2018, 9:01 PM EST

With such warm winter weather fluctuations, is there anything that can be done to condition the soil here in Montgomery county in our small urban backyard garden beds other than mulching?

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

We are not sure what you are referring to or the type of beds - vegetable, flowers, etc. How old are the beds? Have you tested your soil for pH, nutrient deficiencies? http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/soils/soil-testing

One example is - vegetable gardeners incorporate about an inch of compost to well established beds each season. Here is some information on best practices for soil http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/earth-friendly/best-practices-soils

mh


Sorry for the poorly worded question. Sorry for any confusion. I meant with these fluctuating warm/cold/warm cold temperatures in the winter, is it possible to winter sow any green manures or cover crops?
The beds I'm particularly interested in amending are vegetable beds. Usually very early in the cold spring, before I can put any desirable plants into the ground, I get a crop of weeds like bittercress, creeping charlie and wild garlic, dead nettle. I was wondering if there is a way to winter sow something to out compete those weeds.

Thank you

Bittercress and dead nettle are winter annual weeds. Winter annuals germinate in the fall and grow all winter, then explode with growth in spring, which is when they are most noticeable. Yes, you can winter sow a crop to outcompete and shade them, but it would need to be done in the fall. You can also mulch to shade the soil and prevent germination.

Wild garlic is a bulb. Dig clumps of bulbs when possible. Try not to turn the soil and disperse the bulbs further.

Creeping Charlie is a perennial and also considered a non-native invasive in Maryland. Pull, being sure to get all the roots which are not very deep. Never let it bloom and set seed.

Here is our weed page with profiles containing life cycle and control options on each of the weeds: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/lawns/lawn-weed-identification

Here is our page for cover crops, which includes a great chart explaining when to sow and how to handle: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/cover-crops-protect-and-improve-your-soil

ECN