Did you know that many important garden tasks take place in fall? It’s true.
Earlier this month, we talked about why you should add new plants in fall. Today, let’s talk about another important task to be done now – improving your soil.
Whether you have a vegetable garden or flower bed – the soil needs to be refreshed by adding one or more soil amendments. What are soil amendments? “A soil amendment is a product that adds fertility or improves the texture of your soil or does both.” Compost, aged steer (or chicken, horse or rabbit) manure and bone meal are all examples of organic soil amendments. When these amendments are added in fall, they slowly release nutrients into the soil so that by the time spring arrives, your soil is ready for new plants.
The most important soil amendment is compost, which in addition to releasing nutrients and adding beneficial soil microorganisms to the soil – it also helps to improve the texture soil by helping clay soils to drain better and sandy soil to hold onto water for a longer length of time.
In my own gardens, I add 2-inches of both compost and aged steer manure so that I have a total of 4-inches of amendments to incorporate into my existing soil. I then add bone meal, which is a great source of phosphorus and is important for flower and vegetable production in spring. *If you only add one type of soil amendment, than add compost since it is the most beneficial.
Lightly mix the soil amendments into the existing soil. You can do this with a shovel, pitchfork or with a cultivator. When incorporating soil amendments into existing garden soil, it is important not to cultivate too deeply or you can harm earthworms and the existing soil structure – a good rule of thumb is to mix the amendments into the top 6-inches of soil.
By taking a little time this fall to add beneficial amendments to your soil, you’ll reap the rewards come spring time.
To learn more about the garden basics of soil amendments and how they work, click here.