Next Year’s Garden, continued…
Good soil grows healthy plants! You should prepare your soil well ahead of planting time to provide the right texture and nutrition. We’ve had our best success preparing beds in fall, right after summer’s garden is finished and when cool, dry weather prevails.
Roots like a soil that is spongy enough to hold moisture, but porous enough to provide air spaces and good drainage. The best way to give a soil this texture is by adding well-rotted organic material, as often as is practical. Good organics include peat moss, well-rotted manure and compost. Spread the organic material over your entire garden to a depth of several inches and mix it into your soil as deeply and thoroughly as you can.
If your soil still seems heavy and forms sticky lumps when wet or hard clods when dry, mix in up to 2 inches of coarse sand as well as the organic material. Soils that are sandy and drain too quickly can be made more productive through liberal additions of organic material.
After preparing your bed, cover with a deep mulch over winter to protect the soil texture and hold down spring weeds. With a raised bed prepared this way, we’re often able to plant straight into it in spring with no further tilling; just rake mulch off and plant.