It's time (in Southern Australia) to grow some green manure crops to improve the structure of your soil.
Any beds that have finished their summer crops and aren't required for winter growing should be cleared and prepared in whichever way you choose to prepare your beds. Digging or hoeing lightly breaks the surface of very dry soil but you may choose to just move the mulch layer back and sow by raking the seed into the soil.
Additional nutrients in the form of Blood and Bone or your choice of organic nutrients will help the growth of your chosen plants. In the long run this also improves your soil. Heavy clay soils will benefit from the addition of Gypsum to help break it up.
This year I have bought Rye, Barley, Oats and Fenugreek seed from Eden Seeds Select Organic Range.
I still have some Dalkeith Clover (from the Diggers clever clover kit) and some Lucerne 'Sequel' from Green Harvest left over from last year and as they are still within their use-by dates I'll throw them in as well.
Another Organic Food Gardener at Garden Club gave me a 2 litre tub of green manure mixture that she uses recently as a swap for a Jostaberry plant I gave her earlier.
She uses Lupins in her mix. I haven't had much luck growing them here in the past because my soil was very alkaline but I'll give them another try this year.
I bought the small packets of seed because I was only going to Green Manure two beds but now I have extra seed I'll grow some in other areas around the backyard as well. It all helps improve the soil.
As these plants grow I shall water them (but only if I have to) and foliar feed them to keep them growing strongly.
When they are about knee high or just starting to flower I will ask Doc to slash them and depending on the state of the soil in the beds either dig the debris in or leave it to mulch the surface.
It will also depend on what is going to be planted in the beds next as to how much the soil is disturbed.
My Moon Planting Garden Guide suggests that next Saturday 24th March should be a good day to plant Green Manure crops. Now all I have to do is clear the beds and get them ready before then.
This weeks rain and maybe more on Friday should make the soil easier to work and just right for planting on the weekend.
To find out more on improving your soil check out Food Gardening for Beginners Part 3 here.