In the Garden: Soil building

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BURLINGTON, Vt (WCAX) I can't believe the garden season is over already. It seems like we just got started! But there are things to do besides just putting the garden to bed. And one of them is taking care of your soil. This is a great time of year to do a soil test, the UVM soil lab offers a nice analysis of your soil for about 14 dollars. It's well worth it.

And then, based on that, you can add rock dust and powders to your garden now. Because by adding them now, it gives them a lot of time to break down so that next year, you'll have the desired effect. So usually we start with the pH. And that would mean either adding lime or sulfur, depending on what you are growing. Most plants like a pH between 6 and 7, so you are probably going to be adding lime to your gardens, lawns, flower gardens, etc, maybe every three or four years because our soils tend to go more acidic in our region. Just sprinkle it around the drip line of the plant and always work it in. That is important so the microbes can break it down.

If you have some specialty plants, such as blueberries, rhododendrons, Pieris and hydrangeas, they like a more acidic soil. Now is the time to add sulfur, same way you do with the lime. You just sprinkle it around and work it into the soil. There are other minerals you might add, based on the soil test, like rock phosphate and green sand, too.

The other key thing that I like to do in our garden in fall is to never leave any bare soil exposed for the winter. What will happen is the wind might blow off some of the nice topsoil and compost you have and you may get some erosion happening. If you have plants that were relatively healthy, chop them up and leave them right on the bed. Make a little blanket out of them. Or you can chop up some leaves, or use some hay, bark mulch, whatever it is. Just make sure the soil is covered. You can have use nice cover crops, too. By covering over the soil and adding some minerals now, next spring your garden will be even more beautiful.