It’s hard to believe that it’s time to start thinking about planning your fall vegetable garden in August (if you live in zones 5 – 10).
However, before you start planting seeds – you need to prepare your vegetable garden plot first.
Some people think that growing vegetables is hard, but there really is no great secret or technique to growing vegetables – all you need is good soil.
Vegetable love fertile soil and most often the difference between a great vegetable harvest and a mediocre one comes down to the quality of the soil.
Now, most gardens don’t automatically come with great soil – you have to ‘make’ it great.
At this point, you may be worried about having to put a lot of work into your soil – but relax, it really isn’t hard at all.
I’m going to share with you my ‘recipe’ for healthy, organic, fertile soil. Here is what you need for an established vegetable garden to help replenish the soil in fall and spring:
- Compost (if you don’t make your own, you can buy it at your local nursery)
- Aged Manure (I use steer manure, but you can use chicken, rabbit or horse manure as long as it has been aged about 6 months so it won’t ‘burn’ your plants).
- Blood Meal (organic source of nitrogen)
- Bone Meal (organic source of phosphorus)
Now that you have gotten your soil ‘ingredients’ together, it’s time to get started. Add 2 – 3 inches of compost over your entire garden then top it with 1 inch of manure. Sprinkle blood meal and bone meal over the compost/manure and lightly rake in. That’s it!
For new vegetable gardens, follow the above recipe and instructions, but add twice the amount of compost and manure. This mixture works great in a raised garden, or you can work it into your existing soil if you don’t have a raised vegetable garden.
*An optional step is to add a slow-release fertilizer to your soil mixture (especially helpful for a brand-new vegetable garden). Personally, I like to be as organic as possible in my garden, but it can take time for your new soil mixture to begin to break down the nutrients for your vegetables. A slow-release fertilizer can help to overcome this deficit during the first season. If you want to stay organic, then another option is to use fish emulsion in place of the slow-release fertilizer.
I absolutely love growing vegetables and it seems that each year, I add another vegetable garden (I now have three -). This weekend, we will be making our trek to the store to buy the ingredients to replenish my soil so it will be ready for planting.
On Friday, I’ll share with you what vegetables I will be planting along with some helpful information so that you can decide what to plant in your fall vegetable garden.
**For more information on good garden soil and soil amendments, check out this previous blog post “Which Soil Amendments Do You Need?”.