How to Prepare Your Soil for Next Year’s Garden

garden soil preparation

 

The growing season may be coming to an end, but your job as a gardener is far from over. It’s time to prepare for next year’s crops, literally starting from the ground up. We are all aware that a plant’s success begins with the quality of the soil in which it is planted. Follow these self-sustaining methods to ensure a healthier garden next year and check out our other backyard vegetable gardening tips.  

Tidy Things Up

Clear out dying plant, pesky weeds, and other debris. Uproot vegetables to rid the soil of lingering insects that might be nesting in them. Often times they will lay their eggs in the vines on the surface. If left to rot, the eggs can easily survive through winter and cause issues upon hatching in spring. For composting, it’s okay to save some plants and twigs as long as you’re confident they aren’t hosting any diseases. They make great additions to your compost heap and pass on nutrients to future crops. 

Consider Planting a Cover Crop

If you’re like most gardeners, you might long for fresh dirt under your fingernails and a spade in hand. Instead of daydreaming about the first buds of spring, why not create your own hardy winter garden? Be sure to choose plants that root themselves deeply such as Crimson Clover or Winter Rye. Once spring arrives, it’s important to cut these plants short and incorporate them into the soil to halt growth. Allow approximately three weeks for your winter garden to decompose before planting new crops.  

Add Plenty of Nutrients

Whether your soil will be vacant for the time being or not, it still requires a bit of care. Look to your compost heap, or even freshly fallen leaves, for all your soil prepping needs. Be sure to dig deep when mixing compost into raised beds for optimal decomposing. Don’t have any compost? No need to fret! Head over to your local supermarket or hardware store to purchase natural fertilizers and/or manure. If you’re in a time crunch consider ordering online from reputable sources, like Nature Safe, for your garden needs. Top off your soil with store-bought mulch or make your own with shredded dry leaves.  

By following these steps, you’re well on your way to starting next year’s garden on the right foot. Begin these projects immediately after your final harvest for the best results. Thank yourself for it later when you’re reaping the benefits in spring.

About the writer: Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and business. To see more from Emma, say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2

How to Create Garden Compost From Leaves

gardening, garden compost, vegetable gardens



Having rich soil is essential in vegetable and flower gardens.  I started composting several years ago.  I have 2 compost bins that I use for kitchen scraps, yard cuttings, grass etc.  The compost bins weren’t breaking down fast enough for me, so I started composting my neighbor’s leaves.  I’m not sure that I will return to the compost bins after seeing the results of the composted leaves. I love how the leaves break down.  They’re easier to compost and they don’t require any work unlike the compost bins.  Check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips too.

Just leave the leaves in lawn bags and let them do their thing.  My neighbor brings me 15 – 20 bags each fall.  I use them to mulch the garden in the fall to keep the weeds down in the spring until I’m ready to till.  The top picture is a bag that I use around my garden plants as mulch.  This year I created paths in the garden to keep the weeds down with them. Normally I use straw, but I didn’t purchase any this year so I had to use my leaves.

 
Here’s a picture of a bag that has broken down into black gold.  Every gardener wishes for black gold. This bag is beautiful and full of worms. It took a year for the leaves to break down to this state, but it is so worth it. The compost in the bins isn’t close to being this rich after 3 years.  I must say that I have not given the bins the attention that they require.  Compost bins must be heated up by using a certain amount of greens and browns, such as cuttings from the lawn, leaves, kitchen scrapes, newspaper, etc. It also requires water and turning.  My bags of leaves just require storage space, and nature does its thing. The longer you leave them, the more they break down.
Because I have 5 – 10 bags of black gold for the next year’s garden, the other bags can sit and decompose this year.  You can have black gold too. Stop burning those leaves and find a spot for them to decompose.  It’s easy:
1.  Remove large sticks, pine cones etc. from the leaves.
2.  Use inexpensive lawn bags to house them.  I purchase cheap ones from the Dollar Store.
3.  Crumble the leaves as much as you can while placing them in the bag.  Because my neighbor gives me her leaves, I have to open the bags and crumble them myself.  If you have kids let them crumble them.  It gets them involved in gardening.
4.  Wet the crumbled leaves thoroughly, seal the bag and place it in a spot where they won’t be disturbed. I use a stick and punch a few holes in the bag so it will get water from the rain and snow during the winter months.
 
Finally, I hope that you found the post on garden compost beneficial.  So, just remember that composted leaves will enrich your soil and help produce nice flowers and vegetables. You can either till it into the garden or place a scoop into the hole before adding your plant. I’m going to add more of this compost around my established plants this week.  I use a small hand trowel to dig the compost into the soil around the plant. Finally, if you use this method make sure you don’t dig too deep.  Digging too deep may damage the roots or the plant.  Most importantly, the compost is organic and it’s free.