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Fall Soil Preparation

Fall Soil Preparation

It is during the fall that the soil needs to be prepared for the winter to come so as not to be depleted.
Here’s what you need to know to make your soil strong and rich enough in the autumn.

Why fall?

soil preparation
Contrary to the popular belief that gardeners work on their soil during springtime, it is actually best to prepare in the fall. You’ll want to protect your plants for the winter and enrich them in the spring.

Traditionally, gardeners sharpen their tools at the end of winter, when the sunny days come back. As soon as the soil begins to dry up, they embark in a frenzy to take care of their garden as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, this is a practice that weakens the soil, especially when performed in spring. It is better to prepare your garden in the fall rather than wait after the facts.

Tillage

soil tillage
Similarly, tillage must remain superficial, otherwise you may do in-depth damages to your roots and nearby shrubs/trees. It may also destroy your soil, its structure, and some of its healthiness. Finally, it only promotes soil compaction.
In the fall, you should only do a first rough tillage, without breaking the clods. The weather and temperatures should do the rest during the winter as they will loosen the deep soil for planting season.
Note that the first few years, digging will in fact be essential. Over the years though, the soil will naturally become loose due to the annual contributions of compost.

Depending on the nature of your soil and the vegetables you want to grow, the depth will vary for your tillage.
For example, if the soil is only compacted on the surface, a little scratch is enough. If the soil is compacted deeply throughout, it should be ventilated with a fork or spade.
If you’d like to grow some lettuce next year, there’s no need to unpack the soil as worms should do it for you during the winter. On the other hand, if you want to plant carrots, you’ll need to work.

Amendments

soil amendments
Once unpacked, the soil needs to be fed during wintertime.
Drop generous shovels of compost, manure or other amendments without forming large piles. Distribute them evenly across your garden.

It is always best to refresh this layer in a month when everything will have been assimilated by micro-organisms in the soil.
Let the compost untouched on your soil for a few days until the rain makes it penetrate the ground.
If necessary, you can quickly add a second layer, but cover it with protective mulch all winter against the cold and rain.
In the spring, spread out the mulch to warm up the soil.

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