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Preparing Soil for Spring Gardening Begins in the Fall

Preparing Soil for Spring Gardening Begins in the Fall

NORMAL, Ala. -For many people, gardening is a favorite pastime in spring and summer. What many people don’t know is that spring gardening starts with preparation in the fall.

Soil Test

“A soil test of your garden is always the best way to start,” said Dr. Rudy Pacumbaba, an Alabama Extension specialist in home grounds, gardens and home pests.photo by Master-L/Shutterstock.com

According to Pacumbaba, doing this is the most accurate way to determine the condition of the soil and will also help address any possible problems in nutrient availability in the future. He also said that garden soils in Alabama will require liming every three to five years on average to maintain the ideal soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5.

Soil Types

There are seven different classifications of soil types in Alabama alone. This means that soil preparation will vary differently based on location and soil type, even though soils in Alabama have a tendency to be low pH, or acidic in nature. This is a common condition that occurs in soil in humid climates like that of Alabama. Additionally, each county can have at least three to four different soil types within a region.

If some produce thrives while other produce struggles to prosper, the problem could be in the soil.

“Because of  varied soil types across counties and the state, some fruits and vegetables will flourish in some soil types and not others,” Pacumbaba said. “This is due to the soil characteristics, which directly affect nutrient availability, water retention and draining capabilities.”

Soil testing kits are available at  county Extension offices. The kits include the instructions on how to use them.  Regional Extension agents cab help with the test and process it.

“Early soil preparation in the fall makes the process easier because of cooler temperatures,” Pacumbaba added.  “And, it gives you time to plan the garden and make adjustments to the soil bed if necessary.”

Trying out gardening for the first time? Do not worry if your garden does not bloom the way you were hoping. Pacumbaba suggests starting small, choosing what you like and having fun.

Pacumbaba also recommended using a good garden spading fork, a garden hoe and a garden rake. The size of the tools depends on the size of the garden and whether it is an in-ground garden or a container garden.

“Be patient,” said Pacumbaba. “It takes time and commitment.”

Featured image by Polin/Shutterstock.

About Ashlyn Perez

One comment

  1. Homesteading Steve

    Great article. Yes, I always find the fall/autumn a perfect time to work on soil amendments and adding organic matter. It’s a perfect time as the pressure is not on with the growing season in the distance and winter ahead.

    I do a lot of composting but have had fantastic success with just laying down a thick covering of leaves on my vegetable beds, and covering with straw or some other mulch. The worm activity is incredible, and it’s a truly simple way to build organic matter into the beds like the floor of a woodland.

    Keep up the great articles,