As summer comes to a close and harvests are of plenty, how can gardeners prep soil for fall and prepare for another good harvest? What every gardener needs to understand is that preparing for a summer harvest starts during the previous season. How you close out your garden now will determine your success when planting come next spring.
A great quote from diynetwork.com is “the gardener feeds the plant, the organic gardener feeds the soil.” Don’t just focus on the plants in your garden, but what the plants grow in, which is the soil.
Remove any remaining roots and weeds, along with debris and residue from old crops from the soil so that they don’t grow in your garden. While the seeds can hibernate in the winter, they can start growing rapidly in the spring.
Add Organic Matter
Add organic matter in the fall to give it time to provide the best advantages to soil in the springtime, as the amendments need time to interact with the soil, which can take weeks or months. Amendments such as compost and manure supplies micronutrients, “improves soil structure or tilth, increases the water-holding capacity of coarse-textured sandy soils, improves drainage in fine-textured clay soils, provides a source of slow release nutrients, reduces wind and water erosion, and promotes growth of earthworms and other beneficial soil organisms,” according to The University of Minnesota Extension.
You can prepare your very own compost pile right in your backyard from kitchen scraps and shredded crop leftovers, leaves and grass. Just let them decompose to provide advantages to your raised bed or garden. Two items not to add to the compost pile are pepper and tomato plants, which tend to carry diseases which can affect your soil. After evenly spreading the manure and/or compost, add a complete organic fertilizer that has phosphorus and bone meal to increase the fertility of the soil.
Till the Soil
After adding the organic amendments, till, or break up and move the soil around, which is essential to prepare for spring. Smaller gardens can be tilled with a cultivator fork or a deep spader, while renting an engine-powered can be beneficial for larger areas.
Deep tilling allows oxygen to reach deeper levels of soil, is helpful to find and remove any leftover roots or weeds and helps your organic matter get into the deeper layers of the soil. Till once in every direction in your garden for best results.
Cover Up the Soil
After tilling, don’t leave your soil exposed to the harshness of winter and cover it up. Consider adding a cover crop, such as annual rye, to prevent nutrients from leeching out of the soil during the colder months as well as adding organic nutrients and nitrogen to the soil. Just remember to turn over your cover crop in the early spring so that seeds won’t have time to form and you will be able to plant the crops you need for your summer harvest.
While some gardeners choose to purchase traditional fertilizers, these have many toxins that are harmful to the crops you will plant come springtime. Additionally, the runoff from fertilizers pollutes our air and water. Choose to use organic fertilizer, and save money doing so with PlantCatalyst®. This agricultural formula is made with all natural ingredients and no toxins. If you add a just small amount, you can cut your fertilizer use by half! In addition, PlantCatalyst® will help you grow more crops faster!
Many universities and research labs have tested the benefits of PlantCatalyst® in gardens and farms. Click here to read the results for yourself.