3 Tips to Start Prepping Your Garden Now for the Spring
The fall is a wonderful time of the year. The temperatures are a bit cooler. The night air a tad crisper and the heat and humidity have subsided. As a vegetable gardener, I will be the first to admit, that the end of summer and beginning of fall can be bring you down a bit. The thought of knowing that your fresh homegrown tomatoes, peppers and eggplant have come to an end, can be slightly depressing.
But fear not. There is plenty of gardening work that can be done even if you have decided to forgo the fall garden this season. You can do some of your work now so that your garden is ready come springtime.
CLEAN UP THE AREA
By this point many gardens are overgrown, loaded with weeds and a bit messy. One of the first things you can do now, especially since the weather is cooler, is to take out all of the old plants and throw them in your compost pile. This helps clean your garden beds up and at the same time recycles them into usable compost for next season.
One of the things that I like to do is add in plenty of compost and other organic material. Leaves are perfect this time of the year since they are in abundance. Leaves also break down quickly, so adding in lots of leaves to your soil and then mixing them in will help them break down faster at the same time adding nutrients to your soil. Along with leaves, I like to add in plenty of “already broken down” compost. While some disagree with this, I believe by adding this in, worms and other beneficial organisms will work the soil now before a hard freeze sets in, conditioning the soil for better production come springtime. As a side note, now is the time to add animal manure to your garden. Adding it now gives the manure plenty of time to break down.
Some fellow experts disagree with my next piece of advice and that is aerating your soil. What this means is to turn your soil over with either a powered tiller or by hand with a pitchfork. The argument is, by tilling your soil; you are bringing weed seeds closer to the top of the soil making it possible for them to germinate, creating more work for yourself. While that is true, I use newspaper as a weed blocker so that come spring time, I am able to keep those weeds at bay.
I believe the aeration of your soil, adding air to your soil’s ecosystem, has far more benefits than the work that may be created by stirring up some weed seeds. Some of those benefits include:
Enhanced soil water uptake
Reduces water runoff and puddling
Reduced soil compaction
These are just 3 of the many benefits of soil aeration. However, if you are a “no till” garden purist then there are a lot of wonderful books and examples on the market of “weed free” gardening, but for me, aeration works as it has for the past 30 years.
So, don’t let the cooler weather get you down. Get out there and get some much needed work done in your garden. Then, come next spring, you will be just about ready on day one.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person as well as the creator of the Seeds of the Month Club where members receive non gmo, heirloom variety seeds every month. You can listen to Mike each week on the Vegetable Gardening Podcast where he interviews gardening industry experts.