Fall Soil Preparation for Spring Planting


What do I need to do this Fall to prepare the soil in my flower garden to be ready for Spring planting?

Soil preparation in the Fall is an important part of the Spring planting process. It may seem like a long way off but here are some good reasons for the early start:

Tilling & Spading:

First:Soil is often damp and wet in the Spring which makes deep spading difficult. If you till soil that is too wet it makes clods and these are very hard to break down into the crumb state that is ideal for planting. Furthermore, you may be amazed to know that working soils that are excessively wet can destroy soil structure which may take years to rebuild.

Solution: Tilling & spading in the Fall allows for the natural winter conditions of freezing & thawing to naturally break your soil into smaller particles. Of course if you are in the tropics such as Florida or other areas warm climates this is not as dramatic.

Fall Soil Preparation for Spring Planting

Other advantages to fall tilling are:

* It allows you to plant earlier in the spring.

* Organic matter has better decomposition if done in the fall versus spring.

* Insects, disease organisms, and perennial weeds may be reduced or eliminated because you are exposing them to the elements of winter.

Organic Matter Introduced:

Tilling in the Fall also allows for the addition of organic matter. Compost and matter such as leaves are great for your soil preparation and add very important nutrients. In most areas there is an abundance of leaves coming down in the Fall so this is perfect for your compost base material.

Rake the leaves into your garden area and spread them. It is actually best if you are able to shred the leaves but not mandatory. Spade your leaves into the soil as deeply as possible with 6-10 inches being an ideal depth. You could also add a small amount of all purpose fertilizer to help in the decomposition process.

Organic matter in the soil is a golden answer for the spring time. Soils with plenty of this are easy to till as the soil will naturally break apart when working it. Another important benefit is that your soil will do 2 simultaneous important things… It will retain moisture while at the same time have good aeration and drainage capabilities.

Fall Soil Testing:

Fall is a good time to test your soil. This is important because it will tell you what else to add to your soil for optimal growth potential. In general, adding phosphorus and potassium to your soil will adjust the pH levels appropriately.

This can vary however depending on your region and what you will be growing. This may seem like an easy way out, but the best way to test your soil is to collect 1 cup of random samples from around your garden. Then bring that in to a local county extension agent for testing. These people are easy to find and are very willing to test your soil as well as provide advice and information that is pertinent to your local area.