Today's 50-degree weather sent me into a leaf-raking frenzy. I added about a dozen cart loads of dead leaves onto my garden plot. I had already added about 50 cart loads in the fall, plus 40 or so gallons of ashes. I have high hopes when I turn over the ground in the spring that I will finally have enough organic matter in my soil.
In the past I've made the mistake of turning the ground in the late fall, but I learned that a garden should lay fallow and unturned through the winter. The microbes and bacteria work better if the soil is undisturbed.
For reasons I have read but don't understand, hard winter freezes are good for the soil, according to the UT Agricultural Extension Service. It has something to do with the way the ground heaves during freezes and thaws. With all the organic matter and certainly more hard freezes than normal, I'm hoping for a bountiful garden this year. Hope springs eternal . . . and so forth.