How to Prep Soil for Next Year’s Vegetable Garden
Yes, we know you’re still enjoying the harvest from this year’s garden, and waiting patiently for fall vegetables to crop up. But soon you will have to put the garden to bed (at least in the cold parts of the country). There is plenty to do before that, though. The soil in your raised garden bed is teeming with life and can be used again next year. Here are some tips to prepare garden soil for winter and keep it healthy, and ready to take on the spring growing season:
Tips for how to prepare garden soil for winter:
- Test your soil: Plants use up lots of nutrients during the growing season, so take time to do a quick soil test before closing shop—this is how to do it. And if your soil has compacted (which is common in a raised garden bed) add perlite, sand, or even gravel to loosen it up for next year. You can also plant cover crops, like rye or clover, to help prevent compaction and add tons of nutrients.
- Clean up dead plants: Look for any diseased plants and discard to keep the soil microbiome healthy.
- Add compost: This is one of the best ways to continually add nutrients to the soil. Top off the garden with a thick layer before winter. Here’s how to start making your own compost—it’s easy!
- Fertilize: If you don’t have compost, add a good all-purpose fertilizer, or something that will take time to breakdown, like bone meal. Here’s a video with other fertilizer ideas if you find that your soil test is showing specific imbalances.
- Add leaves: Save yourself the hassle of fall yard clean up and add those leaves to the garden instead. It’s an easy way to protect the soil and add nutrients. We like to amend the Eco Garden with lasagna compost using layers of grass and leaves from the yard—see how we do it in this video.
- Cover up: Some people add leaves and let winter take over the garden. We like to add a cover of some sort to keep the microbiome intact and help with the breakdown of all the nutrients you just added. You can use a tarp, plastic sheeting, plywood or anything else that might fit. Get creative!
Taking the time to set up your raised bed soil for success and prepare garden soil for winter will make it so much easier to start gardening again in the spring. With an Eco Garden, you can get started even faster because of the water reservoir, which keeps the garden warmer and ready to plant earlier. Even though we are still harvesting, it’s exciting to think ahead to the spring season when everything starts anew.
Tell us: What are your tips for how to prepare garden soil for winter?