The bright side of being stuck at home
dawns on me once again, as I realize it’s time to start a fall garden. All through August, my raised bed provided an oasis of fresh kale, basil and ripe tomatoes. Now in September, all the kale is coated with aphids, the tomatoes are mostly dead vines, and the basil has long gone to seed. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island we have until mid October to get things growing before the first frost hits so now is the time to jump in.
The best part about fall gardening? It’s arguably the best time of year to use your compost!
Good plants for a fall garden land into three categories:
1- Bulbs – Tulips and daffodils, garlic bulbs- sprout in early spring.
2- Fast Growing Greens – Lettuce mixes, kale, parsley, etc.
3- Tough Roots – Beets can tough it out past the first frost.
Why is Fall a good time to apply compost?
Compost releases nutrients into soil very slowly. These nutrients are broken down for plants by the beneficial bacteria and fungi found in soil and compost. When compost is added in the fall, it fuels the soil biome. The winter weather disperses compost nutrients deep into the soil, as the biome hibernates. By spring all these nutrients are easily accessible for your plants to grow and thrive.
Spring is a busy time, and the soil in spring tends to be muddy and dense – much harder to till and work with than the dryer soil of September. Getting a head start in the fall is a great way to streamline the spring planting process.
How do you apply compost to a fall garden?
Adding too much compost is almost impossible, but a general rule of thumb is to aim for a 1:4 ratio of compost to soil.
After weeding and yanking out the buggy kale and seedy basil, I used a hoe to break up the topsoil- it was super compacted due to the August heat waves. I spread my fresh compost shares evenly across the area I wanted to plant, then used a garden rake to blend the compost into the garden. I plotted out my garden on paper and then followed my seed packet instructions to plant.
The cooler weather combined with the water retention abilities of the compost has really cut down on the amount of water I need to keep my seedlings moist.
If you want to add compost this fall but don’t want to bother with the effort of a garden, roughly till the compost into your garden, and mulch the surface with shredded leaves or straw to prevent erosion. The soil will be flatter and ready to till in spring. A simpler option is to simply apply an inch of compost evenly on the surface and let it sit.
Compost makes ya feel good.
This past spring and summer were difficult for everyone. I’m no therapist, but planning a garden, physical activity, and spending time outdoors are healing activities for me. Also, there’s a lot of science that shows working in and around soil may have a range of positive health effects.
If you’re a Bootstrap subscriber, log in to your user portal on our website to request your complimentary Bootstrap compost! If you’ve used up all your complimentary compost for the year, you can buy more via the store tab on our website.