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:
- Fava beans
- 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.