amending soil feature

Kellogg Amend Soil

As organic gardeners, we know that our gardens and the plants in them are only as healthy as the soil they grow in. If you are blessed with perfect soil, you’re off to the best start ever — but sadly, most of us aren’t. Our soils can be filled with water-logging clay or water-dispersing sand, and everything in between. Fortunately, there are things we can do to improve your soil structure, and fall is a great time to do it! Here are our best tips for amending your soil in the fall.

See Also: DON’T GUESS, TEST! HOW AND WHEN TO TEST YOUR SOIL

But wait — how do I know if my soil needs amending?
There are lots of clues the garden will give you to let you know that your soil needs amending. Soil amendments improve not only the texture and structure of the soil, but the nutrient content as well. If you notice any of the following, consider having a soil test
  • water pooling
  • algae on the soil surface
  • lackluster plants
  • decreased harvest/blooming
  • increase in pest or disease issues

To avoid any of the above, it’s a great idea to simply amend your beds every fall to make sure your soil remains healthy and vibrant. As plants grow, they pull nutrients from the soil, so it’s up to us to replenish it regularly. Keep reading to find out how!

fall leaves
raised vegetable beds

Top 3 Tips for Amending Your Soil for Fall

Plan your timing. Because fall is an important planting season, take your planting schedule into consideration as you amend your beds. If you are building new beds, go ahead and amend the soil before planting perennials, shrubs, and trees. In established beds that are home to vegetables and annuals, amend the soil before each new crop is planted. For existing beds with established plants, I aim to add soil amendments when the leaves start to fall (imitating Mother Nature as much as possible).

Use organic matter. Organic matter is the decaying remains of plants and animals. Sounds kind of gross, but this type of material is the hands-down best at binding to soil particles that, in turn, improve the drainage in your soil. Got clay soil? Organic matter helps to break the soil particles apart so that water can get to the plants’ roots. How about sandy soil? Organic matter lodges itself in between all the spaces so that soil stays moist longer instead of quickly draining before roots can absorb the water. The best organic matter around? Compost — either your own, bagged from the garden center, or in bulk from your local landscape supply yard.

See Also: WHAT IS ORGANIC SOIL?

See Also: YOUR SOIL IS ALIVE

toddler hands in soil
compost bin

Decide upon your method. Again, this will vary depending upon what is currently in your beds. For unplanted or new beds, spread your organic matter evenly over the surface of your soil (4-5” for clay soils, or 2-3” for loamy soil or soil that is regularly amended), then carefully work it into the top 9” of soil. Working it in by hand works well for smaller quantities, while a rototiller makes larger quantities easier to incorporate. For beds that have large plantings of trees, shrubs, and perennials, simply spread the soil amendment over the surface of the soil as a mulch, then over time, it will be carried down into the soil itself. Regardless of whether your beds are planted or unplanted, though, aim to add your amendments after your fall garden cleanup.

Note: Each geographic area has its own soil type. Consult with your local experts about what type of soil you have and the best amendments in your area to improve its structure.

See Also: 5 STEPS TO FIXING YOUR SOIL


Share the Garden Love


Amending Your Fall Soil
Amending your soil for fall
Organic Matter Fall Soil
No Comments

Post A Comment

Soil Calculator
Calculate how much soil you'll need for your next project
Select Your Project
Select Your Calculation Method

Input Your Measurements (Length x Width x Depth)
Switch to inches >

ft
X
ft
X
in
sq ft
X
in
Select Your Calculation Method

Input Your Measurements (Quantity x Diameter x Height)

X
in
X
in
X
gallon