We have also teamed up with our fantastic friends and compost experts over at RocketGro to bring you a special offer with this in mind... read until the end to see!
Over to Jonny…
As ever, there is no one key to improving soil health in the vegetable garden, but a suite of approaches to ensure a diversity of microbes can help your vegetables flourish. Half a dozen half solutions, and you’re (at least!) halfway there.
One autumn task with huge benefits for the garden is mulching your growing areas. Mulching, depending on who you ask, can have a range of definitions. At its broadest, it is simply covering the soil. This helps to suppress unwanted growth of weeds/flowers in the wrong place (please delete as appropriate) and protects bare soil from heavy winter weather - which can wash away fertility from the surface - by slowing runoff and increasing water infiltration.
To match the broad definition, mulching can be done with a wide range of materials, from sheeting to autumn leaves or straw, to woodchips and unsieved compost. I’ve even seen allotmenteers use old carpet to protect their plots. While all do a job, the most benefit will come from mulching organic materials which will slowly break down and enrich the soil at the same time as covering. This is all food for earthworms and mycorrhizal fungi, leading to a booming microbiome and nutrient availability for your plants over winter and into the next year.
At River Cottage, we like to mulch around the overwintering crops, such as garlic, onions, broccoli, and kale, tucking them in before the winter and giving them the best chance to kick on in the spring.
RocketGro’s Magic Mulch is an ideal material for the task (and it’s Soil Association organic certified and chemical-free!). While self-collected materials in larger pieces can harbour slugs and snails - and can often blow across the garden in high winds - Magic Mulch is a fine, fibrous by-product of biogas production whose texture deters slimy menaces and is a rich source of fertility for the earth it covers. Biodigestate provides fibre, fertility and natural microbes for all RocketGro’s composts, which are a great substitute for their destructive peat counterparts.
Elsewhere in the garden, we’ve been clearing space in our polytunnels for a variety of winter salads; splitting herbaceous perennials as they begin their dormancy; and eagerly wading into crop planning for next year. Check back soon for my autumn garden blog to find out more about what we’ve been up to at RCHQ.
RocketGro are kindly offering River Cottage readers a free bag of Magic Mulch with online orders using the code rivercottagemagic, so you can try it out for yourself at home!
Shop on their website here!
*Offer valid with a minimum order spend of £25 at RocketGro.com. One code can be redeemed per customer and cannot be used in conjunction with any other coupon. Offer valid until 30th November.