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Great garden dirt begins with the right balance of minerals in the soil along with compost and mulch.

garden dirt
garden dirt

Autumn is a great time to get out in the garden. Those cooler temperatures mean you can get more done! It’s a good time to feed your dirt for the following growing season so that your flowers, your vegetables, and everything else you grow, can put their best foot forward.

Autumn is the time to add organic matter to the soil, the good stuff that takes a while to break down adding organic material that releases its goodness slowly over time.

raking leaves
raking leaves

How to amend? Start with a layer of natural compost and then top it with mulch. Some folks that have depleted soil may want to add minerals. Your state or local ag-college typically has programs to test your soil and give you recommendations on the minerals you should add.

Minerals your county agent or ag-rep might recommend include lime or gypsum( to add calcium), phosphate rock or wood ash (to raise the phosphorous level) and more.
What kind of mulch?

Mulches are all good however I’d reserve those colored mulches for non-food beds or walkways. In your garden you can use non-colored cardboard, chopped straw (not hay) or shredded hardwood bark.

Some parts of the country will have access to different mulches. For instance the folks in the Carolinas love to use pine straw, something that I’ve never seen at any farm/feed/ranch store. I have however seen cocoa mulch but it was way out of my price range, probably due to it having been shipped in from afar. However a very popular composted product used by a lot of small market farmers is made with rice hulls! (Those rice hulls probably come from Arkansas as Arkansas is the #1 rice producer in the US.)

Your local garden center such as a privately owned nursery and not the big box store will sometimes have their own mulch available. Something they either make there on the premises or have created for them locally.

worm in the dirt
worm in the dirt

As the cooler season progresses, the beneficial insects and other living organisms in the soil will work their magic into better ground to plant in come spring.

Good garden soil doesn’t happen on it’s own very often. Anything you can do in the fallow season to enrich the soil will be a boon next season.

Grab your jacket, make a checklist and let’s get goin’!