Preparing the Vegetable Garden for Next Year’s Crop

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Now that we’ve had our killing frost and the vegetable garden is officially done for the year, it’s time to start thinking about preparing it for next year’s crop.

Fall is a great time to add compost and manure to amend the soil in your gardens. If you do it now, it will have all winter to break down into the soil.

Vegetable garden after removing the dead plants

Amending the soil in a vegetable garden is important, especially for a newly dug garden or an area with poor soil quality.

If your vegetable garden didn’t do as well as you expected this year, it may be because of the soil.

A newly dug garden generally doesn’t do very well the first year, it takes a season or two for the nutrients to breakdown and the soil to become rich enough for vegetables. If you have extremely sandy or hard clay soil, it will also benefit from being amended this fall.

Compost ready to spread

The first step I take when preparing my vegetable garden in the fall is to remove all of the dead plants and any supports/trellises I have in the garden. This will make it easier to till the soil.

If you are planning to add new black dirt to the garden, I would recommend spreading this over the garden before anything else.

Next I spread out the well composted material from my  compost bin. You can also buy manure and spread that out with your compost for added beneficial nutrients. I also like to rake the leaves from the yard and spread them out over the garden along with the compost and manure.

Ready to till

Once I spread everything out, I till it all into the soil and then rake it flat.

If there are any large uncomposted chunks left in the soil, I pick them up and toss them into the compost bin.

All tilled and ready for next year

Here are a couple of other tips to keep in mind…

  • If you don’t have a compost bin, you should consider putting one in your garden. Composting is cheap and easy  and it makes a huge difference in the quality of your soil!
  • If your soil is extremely rocky or is full of tree roots, you may want to consider putting in a raised bed. In the case where the soil in difficult to till and dig into, a raised bed will make your life much easier. It will also help with the success of your vegetable garden. It’s difficult for plants to become established and receive life sustaining nutrients in extremely rocky or root filled soil.

Alas, after a few hours of work, the garden is ready to rest over the long winter. Ahhh…a fresh new garden. Is it Spring yet?



  1. says

    Hi Amy, I'm new to your blog and really like it! (I went to high school w/Joel.)

    You mentioned a raised garden bed – have you ever done an entry about creating a raised bed? (i.e. materials to use, best place in the yard to put one, etc?)


  2. says

    Hi Kim and welcome to my blog! I am glad you found me.

    I haven't written a post about a raised garden bed, but what a wonderful suggestion for a post! We put in a partially raised bed earlier this spring so I will write a blog post with pictures about that project.

    Thanks for the suggestion and stay tuned! I will try to get it out in the next week or so.


  3. says

    Awesome! Thanks Amy.
    By the way, is this just a hobby for you or do you garden and/or write as your day job as well? I'm only asking because if you have written a book or something then I'd love to read it. In the mean time I'm happy to follow your blog :)


  4. says

    Thanks for commenting on my blog! I will soon post a picture of our huge sweet potatoes on my blog. We need to amend our garden soil with kitchen compost soon, especially since our compost bin is getting full.

  5. says

    Hi Amy, I'm so glad to find your blog. Have you tried a heavy mulch layer in your veggie garden to prevent the weeds? I garden organically and have two veggies gardens–a potager close to the house, and the large kitchen garden back by the river. I used a really thick layer of mulch in the big garden, with newspaper underneath to smother weeds, and I barely pulled any weeds this season. I'

  6. says

    Hi Julie! I'm glad you found my blog too, welcome! Thanks for the great advice! I haven't tried a heavy layer of mulch, what do you use for mulch? I am definitely inspired to try organic gardening methods next summer. I hope I don't end up hating myself! :-) I will keep you all updated on my progress. By the way, I am very jealous that you're still planting vegetables! We're

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