Many Gardeners don't realize that taking a small amount of time in the fall to amend and prepare their soil will give them a huge jump start in the spring.
The spring and summer growing season has stripped your soil of alot of it's nutrients. By adding a few items to your soil now, over the winter it will give it a chance to replenish the nutrients and be much more prepared to grow your summer garden.
I live in the south, on the east coast, where the soil is a hard, red, packed clay. NOT good for growing a garden. It is a constant fight to turn that hard clay into fertile soil. The question then is to how/what to do to prepare your soil.
Fall Soil Preparation
1) remove all weeds and large plant material from your garden beds
2) Work in to the soil large amounts of organic material. Organic material benefits the soils in the following ways:
A)Increases the water capacity of soil
B) Improves drainage
C) Increases the oxygen
D) Provides nutrients and encourages microbial activity
What kinds of organic matter can you work into the soil?
First, let me share my new secret weapon. Miracle Grows Expand & Grow.
This product is amazing! It expands to 3 times its volume with water. It's made from coconuts! What I love about it is that I can turn it in to my garden beds and water it, and it will break up that hard clay. It adds the nutrients, oxygen, water retention, and drainage that my soil needs, and is quick and easy to use.
Other types of organic matter that I mix into my soil include shredded leaves and grass clippings. Do not mix in pine needles or other barks, as they are too hard to break down over the winter.
3) Top it off. Top off your beds in one of two ways:
A) Growing a cover crop that will grow all winter and can be turned into the soil in the spring to add some additional spring nutrients as well as prevent winter erosion from storms and winds. Suggestions include: Winter Rye,or Austrian Winter Peas.
B) Add a thick layer of leaves. Adding several inches of leaves to the top of your bed will also provide additional protection and nutrients that can be turned over into the soil in the spring.
Need some more tips? I encourage you to visit the Gardenieres and the Miracle-Gro Facebook page to assist you in finding solutions to your own gardening issues. They are a fantastic resource!