Sep 17, 2012

Want a Garden Next Year? Do These Things NOW

Source: Wikipedia Commons; Ham House Estate
Although it's counter-intuitive, now is the perfect time to start getting ready for spring gardening. Whether you want to turn a patch of grass into a vegetable plot or you need to expand or improve your current gardening soil, fall is the time to do it.

To Turn a Weedy or Grassy Area Into a Garden Plot:

1. Cover the area with three layers of corrugated cardboard, weighed down by stones or bricks or anything heavy. Water it down, then let the weather do it's thing. (If you live in an area without much rain, go ahead and water it once a week.) Do it now, and by spring, the weeds and grass will be dead and the cardboard, by then rotted mostly away, will have improved the soil.

If you have the time, you can also add layers of other organic material, such as kitchen scraps (only from produce, please), aged manure, and so on. (I don't recommend straw or hay, since it can contain many, many weed seeds that can survive this treatment.) Cover the organic matter (cut into small pieces) with the cardboard.

Cardboard is a gardener's helper.
To Expand an Existing Garden:

1. Follow the steps above.

To Improve Existing Garden Soil:

Method A: 

1. If you can't do a soil test kit (see below) or the soil test shows your soil has no imbalances, add organic matter such as produce scraps, aged manure, shredded newspaper, brown leaves, grass clippings, etc. to the garden. For best results, either bury the organic matter several inches down, or cover it with good garden soil, compost, or weighed down cardboard. By spring, the organic matter will be decomposed and the soil rich and improved.

Method B:

1. Test the soil using a soil test kit. Do this as soon as possible, since the wet conditions in fall can skew the results.

2. Follow the amendment instructions that come with the test kit. Add amendments to imbalanced soil now, and the soil will be ready for planting by spring. If you wait until spring, the amendments won't really "kick in" until months have passed.

Happy gardening!

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  1. Kristina, I would like to credit you with the person who motivated me to begin my first garden this past Spring. I kept reading about your gardens then I read your ebook about starting seeds and I just had to try. If you like you can go here to see my Garden Update II.

    I want to thank you from sharing your knowledge with us. I am now composting. I got this raised bed where I am adding all my scraps and creating this beautiful dark dirt to feed my plants for next spring.

    I am so excited!!! thank you, thank you again!!!

  2. Tereza, your produce looks GORGEOUS! I love all that eggplant! I'm so happy for you. And whatever I might have done to encourage it: You're welcome :)

  3. This is a great reminder to start work on the garden and let it mature before spring! Thanks so much.

    I would love it if you would share this with my new blog hop, Natural Living Monday.


  4. Thanks so much for the great ideas Kristina! I'm researching soil test kits right now. :)