by Carol Siddall, Master Gardener
Fall is here; at least we think it is. It seems like winter has slipped in the last couple of weeks with the cold fronts and the nice rain. But, there is still time to get your soil ready for spring.
I wrote an article a few weeks ago about cleaning up your gardens in the fall to prepare for spring time. Fall is also the time to feed your soil so you can have healthy gardens next spring. This is the time of year you need to add organic materials that will release slowly over the next few months.
To feed your soil you need to add a layer of compost and natural mulch. After you have done this, put your gardening tools away. Over the winter months, soil dwellers like worms will work your amendments into the soil. These helpers will reward you with rich, healthy soil in the spring.
This is a good time to have your soil tested to see if you need to add any minerals. You can go to either of the AgriLife Cooperative Extension offices and pick up a soil test. There is a small charge for this, but it will help you to know what kind of soil you have. It will tell you if you need to add any kind of minerals.
The next step is to add compost (a mix of decomposed organic materials). For years I have covered my flower beds with compost after I have cleaned them for winter. Over the winter it will work its way down into your soil. I sometimes would add mulch, which you really should do. If you mulch with natural materials, it will also help improve your soil. I have used shredded bark and leaves from our trees. The easiest and cheapest mulch is to rake your leaves and use them as mulch. Leaves decompose really well. Whatever you use put at least 2” or more on top of your compost. Now come spring, you will have good soil slipping through your fingers!