Gardening is something that never ends; it well into autumn now and that means its time to start preparing and planning for the next growing season; Spring. There is lots to be done in the garden with the vegetable garden requiring the most attention. The is not time to put down the Garden Shovel really, as this tool is the first and last you will need when in the garden this week.
It is as ideal time of year to prepare your vegetable plot for next spring and there are a number of reasons for this. Firstly; digging over your soil can cause a great deal of disruption to the soil and to any life that inhabits it. Using a garden shovel to dig and turn the soil can not only kill and range of soil organisms but it can also bury surface dwelling organisms and bring those who prefer to live deeper in the soil, up to the surface. Digging the soil now and allowing it to settle over the winter and regain its worms and bacteria before being sowing in spring is good practice
Another reason why preparing the soil in autumn is recommended is because of the effects that the winters frost has on the soil that you have already dug. Frost breaks up soil particles into smaller crumbs creating a fine and crumbly surface that is perfect for sowing into. So that means less work for you and less work for your garden shovel. While you put your feet up on a cold winters day, you can rest well in the knowledge that the bitter frost is doing the digging for you.
The third reason why digging and preparing your soil this autumn is because as you prepare your soil you can Shovel in some Organic Matter or farm yard manure into your soil now and let the many hard working bacteria breakdown the manure over the winter months and make for an ideal soil full of nutrients and life come next spring. Organic matter is essential for all soils, not only adding nutrients but also improving soil drainage, organic content, life and ability to hold further nutrients, this last factor is known as the CEC, cation exchange capacity, and Well rotten organic matter has lots of it!
The final reason why I recommend you getting to work with you shovel now and get digging on your vegetable plot is because leaving it late and doing it in spring can slow down germination and early growth rates for two reasons: Firstly, digging in spring can cause excessive and unnecessary loss of water from soil. And Secondly, digging in spring can cause the loss of heat from soils. Both water and warmth are essential for germination and essential for spring soils.
Ofcourse if the idea of digging out in the cold damp weather is not for you, consider buying a raised bed¸ vegetable planter as these really save on hard work while giving you great crops.