Friday, April 22, 2011

Rain at last - more needed

The official Denver precipitation total is now up to 0.84 inches for April (still 0.45 below normal for the month though). People closer the foothills received more rain during the upslope weather late in the week. Seedlings are coming up below the poly germination blanket (photo left) even without added sprinkling. See how to use this germination aid in previous post.

The name of the game now is to keep moisture on and through your soil. This is particularly true if you have added compost or turned under a winter cover crop for soil improvement.

Remember that the melding of the organic matter into the soil relies on microorganisms and they aren't active unless there is sufficient moisture. Turned under winter cover crops like rye and Austrian winter pea need a month to break down before planting vegetables IF the soil is moist enough for the microorgaisms to work over the buried plants.

Compost will release nitrogen during the growing season in addition to improving the structure of the soil. Again, soil moisture is needed for this to happen.

Check not only surface moisture, but also subsurface moisture content. After a dry winter, initial rains may have only moistened the top few inches. You may have to add supplemental moisture to wet the soil throughout the soil "profile." How does your soil moisture look down 6 to 10 inches?

Photo credit: Germinated seedlings under blanket - Carl Wilson

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