Timely Tip – Fall Amending Your Garden Soil

Organic Matter In Your Veggie Garden


So the temperatures are falling, leaves are turning, your garden has been frosted and is in need of cleanup.  Well, after you get all your tomato vines, pepper plants and frosted vegetation cleaned up and off the garden what do you do?  While there are some things you can plant for overwintering like garlic, (another topic for later) this is really the best time to amend your soil for next years planting season.

A good garden soil can take years to develop.  Each year, adding new organic matter or OM is essential.  With our soil types here in Northern Colorado, we typically find we have a very low OM content.  You may have a heavy clay soil, or a sandy type soil depending on where you live.  Both of these soil types offer challenges to gardeners.  If its clay, your dealing with poor drainage and compaction.  If you have a sandy soil like we do here at the Landscape Doctor HQ, then you have great drainage, but that leads to leaching of nutrients and the need for more watering.

How do we solve this issue?  MORE Organic Matter.  The best way to accomplish this is to make a plan to add some kind of OM each year.  I recommend that you rotate the type of OM you add yearly so as to gain the best possible mixture.  Here are some different types of OM you can use

  • Peat Moss
  • Cow Manure
  • Garden Compost
  • Cotton Burr Compost
  • Chicken Manure
  • Manure mixes – ie Sheep and Peat, etc


It is important to avoid using too much of any one type of OM.  If you use cow manure year after year, you can end up with some salt build up in your garden and that can lead to some poor performance in your veggies.  My rule of thumb is 2″ of new OM each fall, tilled into a depth of 8″.  

If your starting a new garden or even if your garden area is well established, it may be helpful to get a soil test to determine the makeup of your food production area.  This is easy and fairly inexpensive.  Your local state extension office will provide this service for you.  Here in Northern Colorado, Colo State University is the place to go.  Here is a link to get right to the soil test form, prices and how and where to submit your test sample.  Its well worth it and will help you to make the right choices to make your garden as productive as possible.   http://www.soiltestinglab.colostate.edu/documents/HORTICULTURE_FORM.pdf

Ok,…time to get out there and start to amend your garden……


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