subscribe
YouTube
Pinterest
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
Search

How Do I Build My Soil in Fall to Increase Vegetable Yields?

By: Jessie Keith

“Hello, I just moved to a place this year that had semi-raised beds for gardening. I planted several “crops” and the yields were not great. I don’t know if it was the seeds I used or if it is the soil itself. I waited until the ground was warm enough, and I watered regularly and planted as directed, but my yields were about 50% for everything but radishes! I am thinking of adding some more soil this fall and let it sit over the winter..any ideas?” Thank you. Question from Lucinda of Pittston, Maine

Answer: There are lots of ways to build up your soil for vegetable growing success. Here are four recommendations that will increase your success next season.

1. Feed Your Soil

Good soil is the key to gardening success. Feed it liberally feed it with organic matter, such as Black Gold Earthworm Castings, Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss, and Garden Compost Blend, especially if your soil is rich in clay or sandy. The addition of high-quality, screened topsoil is also recommended. Add at least 3 inches of amendments to the soil surface, and till it to a depth of at least 8 inches. Tilling in amendments will increase water-holding capacity and aeration for better root growth. Use the amendment application formula below to determine the amount you will need.

Amendment Application Formula

([area to cover] ft2 x [depth in inches desired] x 0.0031 = ___ yd3).

Example: If you wanted to cover a 20 square foot area with 2 inches of compost, the result would be: 20 ft2 x 2 inches of compost x 0.0031 = 2.48 yd3.

(For another take, click here for a full overview of how to prep a new no-till vegetable garden from start to finish.)

2. Choose the Right Organic Fertilizer

Vegetables perform better with regular fertilization, especially heavy feeders like tomatoes. Most veggies will deplete the soil of nutrients over time, so replenishment is necessary. There are many organic vegetable fertilizers on the market. Alfalfa, blood, bone, feather, fish, kelp, and shrimp meals are all common natural components of non-chemical fertilizers. Earthworm castings are also a good source of nitrogen and beneficial microbes. Adding mycorrhizae to the soil is also useful because it helps plants take up water and nutrients better. Black Gold Natural & Organic Ultra Coir is another of our organic-rich amendments that also contains our proprietary blend of endomycorrhizae. We recommend that you research top-rated organic fertilizers to find the best for your needs.

3. Rotate Your Crops with Legumes

Vegetables, especially tomatoes, should be rotated on a three-year cycle. For example, tomatoes one year and other vegetables in the next two years. Legumes, like beans and peas, are excellent rotation crops because they naturally fortify soils with nitrogen. For more rotation tips, I encourage you to read Spring to Fall Vegetable Rotation: Planting for Non-stop Garden Produce. It will provide all of the information you need to effectively rotate your crops, whether container- or garden-grown.

4. Clean Up and Cover

Weed your beds with quality weeding tools (I am never without my weeding knife (Hori Hori), strong hoe (Prohoes are the best), and Korean hand plow (Ho-Mi)), and then plant them with a green manure crop. Johnny’s Seeds’ Fall Green Manure Mix or annual rye are good cover crops that can be tilled under in spring. They stop winter weeds and add natural organic matter and nutrients to beds for better vegetable production.

I hope that all of this information helps!

Happy soil building,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

About Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

Leave a Reply

Content Disclaimer:

This site may contain content (including images and articles) as well as advice, opinions and statements presented by third parties. Sun Gro does not review these materials for accuracy or reliability and does not endorse the advice, opinions, or statements that may be contained in them. Sun Gro also does not review the materials to determine if they infringe the copyright or other rights of others. These materials are available only for informational purposes and are presented “as is” without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including without limitation warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. Reliance upon any such opinion, advice, statement or other information is at your own risk. In no event shall Sun Gro Horticulture Distribution, Inc. or any of its affiliates be liable to you for any inaccuracy, error, omission, fact, infringement and the like, resulting from your use of these materials, regardless of cause, or for any damages resulting there from.

While we have made every effort to ensure the information on this website is reliable, Sun Gro Horticulture is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this site is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information.

Use of this site is subject to express terms of use. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use

View Our Privacy Policy