7 Simple Steps to Feed Your Soil In the Fall
The right soil type lies at the roots of growing healthy plants, this key component (soil) can either make or break a garden therefore we must ensure at all times we meet our garden plants’ requirements by providing them with the right soil type. Providing the right soil type for plants to thrive means conditioning our soil with amendments that are formulated for this purpose.
The fall months present opportunities to make soil improvements because this is the ideal time to prepare our gardens for next season’s crops or to grow that beautiful flower garden.
During the spring and summer months garden soil works hard by helping to provide plants with nutrients and water for proper growth, because of this nutrients must be replenished.
There are many materials that can be used for this purpose, some of which can be found either in your garden and landscapes or even in your kitchen saving you a few dollars and then there are soil amendments that can be purchased.
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1. The Power of Composting
Composting is a popular method that’s effective, this practice of enriching the soil is all-natural. Use kitchen scraps such as vegetable scraps, fruit peel, coffee grounds, eggshells, etc… your garden is a compost gold mine for example leaves, lush or soft plant (if using plant parts ensure they are chopped up into small pieces for quicker breakdown by soil microbes) parts and grass clippings will also enrich your soil, applying compost to your garden soil will not only add nutrients but will also increase microbial activity further breaking down organic matter to build healthy soil. There are several ways to add compost to your soil. A word of caution, when composting never use meat scrapes which will not only contaminate your compost but will encourage rodents such as rats and mice, dogs, and cats will also disturb your compost pile in search of meat scraps which is not good. Here are a few ways to compost, Composting during the fall, How to build and use a trash composter, Dig and drop composting, keeping animals out of compost, Can compost be used as mulch, How to compost indoors, and Starting a compost pile.
2. Aged Manure
Incorporating aged manure into your garden soil is an excellent way to add nutrients, manure is a natural organic that’s a by-product of cows, goats, horses, rabbits, chickens, sheep, and pigs. Manure can sometimes be very high in nitrogen especially if it’s not aged, applying manure during the fall months will allow soil microbes sufficient time to break down these materials into a form that will not harm or burn ( never use fresh manure) plants.
Manure can be applied to garden soil by spreading a 1-2 inch layer deep evenly over the top of your garden plant bed, followed by thoroughly watering the soil. This application will assist in breaking down manure.
3. Using Cover Crops
Cover crops are also called green manure, planting a cover crop will help to protect your soil from the germination of weed seeds ( discouraging weeds seeds from falling on bare soil) that will germinate once the growing season returns. This method also keeps the soil from compacting during the winter months, prevents nutrient erosion, and helps to keep the soil structure sound or in good condition.
Once spring returns and it is time to replant, the cover crops can either be removed by pulling weeds, if they are dried can be left for mulch, can be plowed under, or chopped up with a lawnmower or scythe. Some examples of cover crops are oats, clover, alfalfa, barley, fall rye, buckwheat, hairy, and vetch.
4. Mulch Use
The addition of mulch during the fall months is a proven method that will add nutrients to the soil as it breaks down, other benefits of mulch during the fall and the winter months are discouraging weed seeds from germinating, insulating the plant’s roots from being damaged during winter time, protects against soil erosion. Adding a 2-3 inch layer of much over the soil’s surface is sufficient. Some mulches include chopped-up leaves, straw, pine needles, shredded newspaper, fallen leaves, grass clippings, organic mulches, or sawdust.
5. Till Your Garden
Tilling your garden soil will help to stimulate microbial activity that will improve your soil’s structure by helping to break down organic matter and encouraging proper drainage. Tilling the soil will lose it making it easier to incorporate fertilizers and organic materials, a garden that (clay or sandy soil) is in an area with low organic matter should be worked with the non-tilling method because soil tilling increases microbial activity to consumer organic matter. Tilling a garden of this sort will degrade the soil.
6. We Can’t Forget Our Lawns
A lawn that’s well-manicured looks beautiful and will add to the value of a property, but for lawns to grow healthy, lush, and green requires many key factors. If your soil is compacted then use an aerator to open up the soil followed by adding a 1/2″ layer of compost over the entire lawn and then thoroughly water through so the compost can be worked down to the grass roots.
7. Having a Soil pH Test Done
Having a pH test done in the fall is a great way to test your garden soil’s pH level and nutrient availability, once the test is done go ahead and make the needed adjustments (balance pH) along with adding the needed amendments for example blood meal, cow, goat, chicken manure etc…
A Bonus Point Just For You
Worm casting is a great way to enrich your garden soil and will also assist in better airflow for soil microbes, worm casting is a gardener’s gold mine. The practice of worm casting is not new but it’s an effective way to enrich your garden’s soil. Here is how this process is done.
- Never use leaves, grass clippings, and other plant materials that are disease
- Avoid adding limbs and branches to your compost because these plant materials take a longer time to break down
- When removing diseased plants from the soil ensure that the roots are removed as well don’t just pop the plant, while the roots are intact. Disease roots that are allowed to remain can become a harbourage for pathogens
The final word on how to feed your soil in the fall
Feeding your soil during the fall months is a great way to prepare and supercharge your garden for the spring and summer months, these proven methods will go to work for you and your garden plants will reward you by producing a healthy harvest of food crops or healthy plants with many beautiful flower blooms. If your desire is to have a garden that produces good results you have come to the right place, this guide offers the help that you need to create the ideal soil for garden success.
About the author
Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.