It is easy to catch spring fever after the gloomy winter months, but for some garden chores, it simply makes sense to finish them in the fall. One such garden chore is adding organic matter to planting beds – here are five reasons why it makes sense to complete this chore now!
- It is much easier to find a time when garden soil is dry in the fall as opposed to waiting for the spring. Soil textures with considerable clay content will form clods if tilled when wet. Till these soil types now and mix in organic matter so your planting beds are ready for garden plants the first of spring.
- Soil textures with considerable clay content compact the worst under saturated conditions so it is best keep traffic off planting beds in the spring if compaction is an issue in your garden.
- Compost should ‘cure’ to complete the composting process before being added to garden soil with growing plants. By adding organic matter to the garden in the fall, you have a few more months to allow compost to finish ‘breaking-down’ before you plant your garden in the spring.
- Some types of soil amendments, for example some animal manures, are naturally high in salts. Although these materials supply garden plants with valuable nutrients, salts can stunt or damage small plants. By spreading amendments now, you can take advantage of the snow pack and spring rains to help leach the soluble salts down and away from the root zone of garden plants.
- Gardeners can take advantage of ‘free’ sources of organic matter, like disease-free leaves, in the fall. Mulch leaves into small pieces and add small quantities to garden soil in the fall along with a little nitrogen fertilizer to speed up the decomposition process. Or, better yet, add leaf bits with a nitrogen source to your emptied compost bin for great ‘compost in the making’!
Bonus Tip: By adding garden amendments now, you will be in great shape to get a soil test done in the early spring to see if you need to address any garden soil issues prior to planting your spring garden plants.