How to Prep Soil for Fall Gardening

Preparing soil for fall gardening such as vegetable gardening, requires you take a few steps in order to make the soil ready for planting. Planting fall crops requires you to prepare the soil. This is done by restoring the nutrients in the soil that were removed during the spring and summer plantings. Use a light layer of compost material or manure to help restore the soil nutrients as you prepare for the fall crop.

Keep the Soil Moist

Working with dry soil is more difficult and can prevent the seed's germination during the summer. You should look to plant fall vegetables when the soil is wet and moist. Seeds may be planted in the ground and covered deeper that when you plant in the spring. An organic mulch helps keep the soil moist and warm while germination takes place.

Use Mulch to Retain Moisture

Once the plants growing in the ground, use a heavy mulch to continue to hold the moisture. This also control weeds and prevent them from suffocating your plants. You should irrigate the plants whenever necessary giving additional moisture to the plants.

Address Late Season Insects

Insect problems are at a minimal during the fall since most infestations occur during the late spring and into the summer. Be aware of cabbage worms and corn earworm as they may appear in your garden come the later fall months. You can pre-treat the soil with an organic pesticide that can act as a deterrent to these and other later occurring pests in your fall garden.

Plant Seasonal Plants 

Look to plant crops such rutabagas, parsnips and some turnips that grow well in the fall, do not completely deplete the soil's nutrients and can be grown up to the first frost. These types of plants are designed especially to be grown in a fall garden and can fully take advantage of the preparation you have done to prepare the soil for their planting.

Till and Protect the Soil Between Plantings

Till the soil thoroughly before the beginning of the growing season and add whatever additional additives and nutrients necessary prior to the fall plantings. You may also consider rotating and changing the types of crops or plants grown in the fall from those grown in the spring or summer as a way to cut down on soil erosion and ensure the best possible plant yield from your fall garden. The time and effort that you put in between seasonal plantings will pay dividends in the fall when you begin to harvest your plant yields for the cold winter months ahead.  

Plan Ahead

Create a chart of the plants that you placed in the soil between the spring, summer and fall. Charting your growing activity will give you a sense of what is going into the ground and what nutrients and other resources are being taken out of the ground. This valuable information will help you plan ahead for the next fall growing season.