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Demonstration: Getting Ready for Spring

So much joy happens in the garden during spring, but to make that happen, there’s some work that can be done during winter to prepare.

Begin by removing any debris from the soil and adding organic matter, such as compost or manure. Then, spread a layer of mulch over the top to help keep moisture in and weeds at bay. You don’t have to use expensive mulch. Start by using the leaves from your yard.

Another way to get your soil ready and healthy is to incorporate microorganisms. One way to do this is by making your own brew utilizing decomposing leaf matter.

“The idea is to go into, find an old tree, old forest, someplace that is really undisturbed and go by the base of the tree, move some leaves, and you want to look for white mycelium. And that's the beneficial fungi. It’s called leaf mold,” Mitchell Provensal, Baton Roots Program Manager, explains.

After you’ve collected the leaves, you will need a sealable bucket full of dechlorinated water.

“Chlorine will kill the good bacteria and fungi. Our tap water has chlorine. Just fill it bucket up, let it sit for 24 hours, it'll all dissipate,” Provensal notes.

Use a mesh bag and add to it a handful of your leaf mold with a potato that has been cooked.

“The potato is going to be a simple food that the fungi and bacteria can just eat really quickly and they'll just multiply and just go, go, go, go, go, go, go,” he adds.

Mix in a little sea salt for the minerals and then put the mesh bag in the water. Use your hands to mash up the potato while mixing it in the water. Then, let it sit for 36 to 72 hours.

“It's gonna create like a disc of foam. Once the disc starts separating from the edge of the bucket, that's when you know it's ready,” he says. “You have to dilute this because the microbes have just multiplied and they're just eating the potato and are going really crazy. You'll split the solution one to one. So this is essentially gonna make 10 gallons of the inoculate.”

Drench your soil with the super brew about two weeks before you plan to start planting. Now that you’ve started getting your soil ready, you can begin growing seeds indoors so they’ll be ready to transplant when the weather is right.

Below are some seed growing guides to help you get started. For additional tips and direct conversations, join Baton Roots on the first Saturday of every month for Sow Good Saturday. Along with a demonstration, there are opportunities to get your hands dirty in the garden, participate in light stretching activities with local instructors, and taste healthy recipe dishes from Chef Traci Vincent with the American Heart Association.

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