We celebrated our first day of Fall on September 22nd. Now it’s time to think about prepping our veggie beds for Fall as the temperatures begin to cool down. It’s best to prepare your soil in the Fall while the earth is still warm and workable. There are just a few simple steps to Fall soil preparation:
Now is the time to dig out the roots of problem weeds like wild morning glory, oxalis, nut sedge and Bermuda grass. Be sure to remove any others with seed still on the plant. If shed, this seed can easily winter over in the soil to infest the new year’s bed. It’s a common occurrence in spring prepped soils to find weed populations increasing with each new season.
Spread amendments evenly over the area before you till. You’ll need a lot of manure and/or compost to feed microorganisms and help the soil remain open and well-drained. Then boost fertility with materials such as bone meal for nitrogen and rock phosphate for phosphorous. An easy way to achieve this is to buy a complete organic fertilizer in pellet or granular form, which is easy to transport and apply.
Fall tilling is all about opening up the soil to incorporate nourishment, relieve compaction, increase oxygen and improve drainage. The deeper you get, the better. Because you’re not planting right away, it’s best to rough till once in each direction. This leaves the surface irregular with large chunks of earth. The clods will gradually erode over the course of the winter, carrying amendments deeper down with the runoff. You can spread the entire surface with mulch or shredded leaves to prevent erosion. The ground will flatten out considerably by spring when you’ll need only fine till to prepare for planting.
Come spring 2018, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much easier it will be to put the garden in without all that hauling, spreading and tilling.