Pre­pare your soil for next sea­son

Make your soil sing this au­tumn! Gar­den­ing ex­pert Karen Mur­phys's pre­pares the ground for next year

YOURS (UK) - - Inside -

Good gar­dens and healthy plants start from the ground up – the sin­gle, most vi­tal el­e­ment of a thriv­ing gar­den – and al­lot­ment, and farm field for that mat­ter – is su­perb, nu­tri­ent-rich soil for all your plants to sit hap­pily in for years. True, many plants can thrive in poor soil, but most don’t ap­pre­ci­ate com­pacted, un­worked and un­tended ground. Give bare soil a good fork­ing over. This will in­crease the air flow down into the ground, which is needed for grow­ing plants and will im­prove drainage, too, at a time when there’s a lot of rain to con­tend with. Many plants don’t mind the cold of win­ter as such, but will not sit hap­pily with wet feet. Turn­ing over the soil also brings up lurk­ing pests that will hope­fully make a nice lunch for a few hun­gry birds. An­other great job is to add mulch, mulch and more mulch! It’s a great way to pro­tect plants and soil when they need it most, and it also takes some of the work out of gar­den­ing for us, too. Biodegrad­able mulches are best for the soil, such as mush­room com­post, ma­nure, com­post, leaf mould, bark, chopped-up tree and hedge trim­mings, wood chip­pings or sea­weed. These can add more to your plot than gravel or sheet mulches, for ex­am­ple. This kind of mulch is nu­tri­en­trich and can rot down to feed the soil and your plants. Not only that, there are many other rea­sons to use mulch. It sup­presses weeds, im­proves the tex­ture of your soil and en­cour­ages our lovely worm friends to make their way up to the mulch and bring it down into the soil – which aer­ates and im­proves too. Also, mulching will pro­tect lots of your plants’ roots from the cold, sta­bilises the soil from it all be­ing blown or washed away in harsh au­tumns and winters and stops leaves that touch the ground get­ting too soggy. It gen­er­ally looks quite good too, par­tic­u­larly with neat lay­ers of bark laid out ev­ery­where. Yes, just do­ing this one sim­ple af­ter­noon job kills a lot of prover­bial birds with one stone! It’s the ul­ti­mate au­tumn task to help you and your plants out and takes your gar­den hap­pily through to spring. Karen writes for Gar­den News magazine which is packed full of tips, in­spi­ra­tion, plant and prod­uct news and great money-sav­ing of­fers! On sale ev­ery Tues­day, or sub­scribe and try your first four is­sues for just £1. Call 01858 438884 or visit www.great­ and quote YFIG. T&Cs ap­ply.

Karen gives her soil a good turn­ing over

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