Tilling Your Garden in Fall

Tilling Your Garden in Fall

Fall Tilling to Prep for a Long Winter's Nap

By  | Tiller Product Expert

Once you've harvested your summer crops, you may think you're done until spring. However, we urge you to reconsider.

While you may already till at the start of the season, doing it again at the end of the season can also have its advantages.

Tilling in the roots and stems of harvested crops, along with amendments like compost, provide added nutrients for springtime gardening.

Using Compost
shoveling compostCompost will improve your soil quality by adding nutrients and more absorbent materials, which produce healthier plants.

After harvesting your crops for the year, cover the area with compost. Spread a consistent layer about 3-5 inches thick.

Tilling It In
tilling into soilYou've covered your garden with compost, but now it's time to stir it in. There should still be leftover roots and stems under the compost.

Churning them in with the compost will add nutrients to the dirt and improve its' tilth. You can also add shredded bark, peat moss and manure to improve the soil's structure and contribute humus that will help to aerate the soil and prevent some diseases from overtaking your crops.

For heavily dense clay soil, you can also add things like sand to help improve runoff. Choose amendments that will help improve your soil structure and feed your plants in spring, then till them into the garden at the end of the season so they have time to break down over the winter.

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Make several passes over your garden with a rototiller or very powerful cultivator until the soil is smooth and even with a balanced blend of dirt, compost, and residual plant material.

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Protecting Your Garden
When you've finished tilling, you'll want to protect the now loose fertile ground from winter's bitter cold and snow.

You have two options for protecting the nutrient rich soil from ol' Jack Frost. You can either plant a cover crop, such as rye grass, or you can use leaf mulch.

Plant Rye Grass
rye grassSince you've spread compost and cultivated the soil, you're fully set to plant rye grass seed. It's best to do this as soon as you've harvested.

This allows time for the rye grass to form roots. You can till what remains into the dirt in Springtime to add to your garden's nutrients.

Blanket It With Mulch
leaf mulchIf you use mulch, do not use wood mulch. It won't break down well and will reduce nitrogen in the soil. It also tends to invite unwanted pests.

Use shredded leaves and grass clippings. These decompose nicely and can be cultivated into the garden in Spring to add nutrients. Use a leaf vac to collect leaves and grass clippings.

NEXT: How to Pick the Perfect Rototiller


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