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Soil is the soul of your garden. Keep it healthy with these five tips.

Garden soil texture background top view
Rouzes/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Garden soil texture background top view

It's simple: when the soil in your raised beds and gardens is healthy, your flowers, veggies and herbs will grow better. Learn five techniques to keep the 'soul of your garden' in good shape.

Begin building a better base for all your veggies, flowers and herbs now so you'll have a healthier, fertile garden next spring.

Fall is a great time to do some soil prep and soil protection and you can do it in five steps.

Here are five ways to love your soil:

Don't dig! Digging into the soil disturbs the microbes. By not digging, you’re helping the atmosphere. By sequestering carbon, you're not releasing it into the atmosphere. You're preserving the root systems, too, and creating more fertile soil. 

So when you're getting your gardens ready to put to bed for the season, don’t dig. Instead, cut the plants off at the soil line.

If the plants were healthy, go ahead and chop and drop. If they had some plant diseases, chop the plant and remove it.

But don't dig up or turn that soil and when in doubt, find more helpful information in Charlie Nardozzi's No-Dig Gardening book.

Leave the roots alone! Even if the plants were diseased - unless it's really clear that it was a root-borne disease - just cut that plant at the soil line and remove it. The soil will slowly break down roots and microbes. 

By not interfering with the roots, you’ll also create a great habitat earthworms, beetles and things to roam around.

Keep it covered! Chopped leaves, grass clippings, hay or straw all make great cover for your garden beds. Lay it on and leave it right through the season. 

Layer it up! Create layers of material (see above!) and then create more layers by adding compost on top. Adding compost to your layers of grass clippings, chopped leaves hay and straw will create a fertile, rich soil by the spring so you can plant right through it. 

Don't step on it! Stepping on the soil in your garden bed will compact the soil and break down its structure. If you stomp on your garden beds, it compacts the air pockets and natural water filtration.

Following these five guidelines will help you keep the soul of your garden healthy and fertile and ready for next spring.

Q: Do I need to wait until after the first frost to plant garlic? - Kari Anderson, VPR’s Program Director

In most years, you would be planting garlic now. But we've had such a warm fall that you should wait another week or two.

Ideally, when the overnight temperatures are 40 to 50 degrees consistently for about a week, you can plant garlic.

You can plant garlic right into November, too. Just make sure again, you have a raised bed or garden with fertile soil.

To plant garlic, just place the bulbs into the soil pointy side up and six inches deep, and then cover them over with some hay or straw for the season.

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All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips?Send us a messageor get in touch by tweeting us @vprnet.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.