I've been preparing for the garden next year, I am not sure how exactly big it will be, the fenced in area is about half covered with mulch. I don't know if I'll be able to get any more of it covered, so I may resort to doing half the garden in no-till, and the un-covered half may get tilled the old fashioned way.
I do know that I won't be able to provide as much maintenance in the garden this year, not only do I have Spring Break in Mexico, but I have Honduras in June, and various youth events at various times all summer. On top of that, I am planning on taking a summer class or two so there will be even less of me around.
A couple of good things have happened, I've been using the trailer I built in Oregon to add capacity to my truck so I can haul larger amounts of manure and compost. You remember when I got a pickup load of horse manure earlier this year, just last week, I got another pickup load with a trailer load too. I also got a load of compost from Bentonville's compost facility back in November I think it was. The compost is fairly coarse, not the good stuff, there's a lot of moderately large wood chips in the mix, it will take a few years to decay, but that's not exactly a bad thing.
Also, the new worm bin is beginning to do so some good work, the worms are beginning to congregate at the surface, especially underneath the slices of watermelon I put in there. Anything that gets them to group up is good because not only do they work faster in groups, they also mate more profusely which they really need to do to get the population up. The manure and compost will be for general soil amendment while the worm compost will be for fertilizing plants on an individual basis. The tomato plant you can find in the Fall Update was fertilized with composted horse manure, and it did quite well, but only after the manure was added. The soil is very poor, but it seems to be easy to fix.
I would have liked to have been able to use the sawdust toilet compost for the garden this year, however I had already added new material to it before I thought of that. Remember, the pile needs to sit at least a year before it can be used. The purpose of this is to kill off the most potent organisms which would normally be roundworms, which I don't have. It is not really necessary to compost for so long in a well managed compost pile, but for the sake of a factor of safety, it's a really good idea. In fact, for the sake of argument, that's just the way it should be done. If there were legal requirements that's what they should be, and in most cases two years can't hurt either.
Also this next year, I'm planning on not losing all my plants to frost. I will be starting tomatoes early like I did last year, but instead of planting them out in the frost, I'll be adding additional transplanting steps into larger pots so that they will be plenty large to get a good start when it comes time to plant them outside. The problem last year was that we were having 70 degrees for three or more weeks before we had the last frost which really messed stuff up. This is part of the learning curve when you move to a new area I guess. I plan to irrigate the tomatoes this year as well, I have a drip system that I'll be putting together so that the tomatoes don't get dry and crack when it rains again.
Hope you had a happy Christmas.