Rejuvenating the Garden Soil in Fall

By Mary H. Dyer | November 3, 2016
by Mary H. Dyer
November 3, 2016

After a long season, especially in a warmer climate, the soil becomes tired and worn out from being baked in the sun, dug into, watered, etc. Even fertilizing can take a toll. While synthetic fertilizers may seem great, creating lush plants, they do little to support the health of the soil, which is the basis for overall plant development. In order to get the most of your garden, it’s a good idea to rejuvenate now, in fall, for healthier plant growth in spring.

Here are a few tasks you can perform during the autumn months that will give your soil the boost it needs for a greater outcome next season.

Compost – One of the best ways to rejuvenate the soil organically is by working in at least an inch or two of compost. Not only will this provide much needed nutrients in the soil, but it will improve its overall structure, allowing plant roots to absorb what they require to thrive.

Compost tea – Another option is the use of compost tea, which can be easily watered into the soil. Compost tea is rich in micronutrients and beneficial microorganisms, something that all good soil should have. While you can make your own, many organic retailers, like Southland Organics, supply ready-made batches that work wonders.

Leaves – Fall is always a great time for gathering up all those fallen leaves in the yard. Don’t just throw them away though. Take advantage of this organically rich source of nutrients. If possible, shred them up and mix into the soil a couple inches. You can also use the leaves as mulch on top of the soil, and around plants, over winter. Come spring, you can simply dig into the soil.

Cover crops – Cover crops can help enrich the soil as well. Planting a cover crop in fall (generally by the end of October in most climates) can benefit the soil by adding nutrients, discouraging weed growth and preventing erosion during winter. This can be plowed under in spring. Some good cover crops for home gardeners include:

  • Peas
  • Fava beans
  • Alfalfa
  • Clover
  • Buckwheat
  • Winter rye

Keep in mind that you needn’t limit yourself to just one of these tasks. It is perfectly fine to implement all of them in fall. Following your general fall cleanup and removal of old plant debris, simply work in that compost as you plant a cover crop. Water in some compost tea, if desired instead, and cover the area with leaves. Over winter, your soil will get the boost of nourishment it needs while the leaves add extra protection to the soil and cover crops. Once spring returns and the warm weather with it, you can turn over the soil and prepare for another season of healthy plants.

The above article was sponsored by Southland Organics. The information contained in this article may contain ads or advertorial opinions.
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  • Pooja Josh
    Comment added May 16, 2021Reply

    Ah.. my search for the answer stopped here.. about taking care of the soil in fall.

    I'd been asking this question for a long time. how to take care of the soil and the plants in fall. Searching for an answer was hell lot of effort. And then, I came across your blog. You've made the life so much easier when it comes to gardening. Step by step instructions, right kind of material etc.. I've started my bonsai tree gardening.. Let me see how it goes but I am thrilled to follow your blog and get the updates here. :-)

    Cheers, Pooja Josh

  • jack
    Comment added November 8, 2016Reply

    I garden at a community garden. We had bad out breaks of harlequin beetle and squash beetles. On top of that we had a bad case of powdery mellow that didn't get taken care of. One of my gardeners says that we need to treat the soil. We are organic. What recommendations do you have. Will the milk, baking soda, and non detergent on the soil?

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