As I write this, the gardeners at Minnetrista are taking advantage of what is perhaps the last possible day for weeding this year. We’ve had temperatures above freezing, with rain coming down. This scenario makes for some effective weeding, but brings a bit of danger, too. That danger is soil compaction!
Soil compaction happens when soil particles are pressed together, leaving little pore space between them.
Pore space is necessary for proper plant growth. It provides space for oxygen, which roots need, and encourages water infiltration into the soil and movement through it. As you can imagine, if water and gases are having trouble moving in a soil, roots are also going to have a heck of a time.
Preventing compaction is a pretty simple concept: stay out of the beds when they are wet.