The Top Four Ways to Earn Your Green Thumb this Fall

So you’ve been trying to get your perfect yard for a while now. You see others do it. And it seems like everyone makes it look so easy. But for some reason, success keeps eluding you. Every time you get close to figuring out this whole gardening thing, something happens and you end up back where you started.

Not this time.

Because this time you’re going to be armed with the same tips, tricks and secrets that the expert green thumbs and master gardeners know. So give these tips a try and see if they don’t work for you too…

Tip 1: Plants Like Tea

Plants can only take in nutrients which are in a soluble form- i.e) Nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium need to be free floating in a liquid. In other words, plants live on nutrient rich tea- since this liquid helps plants grow, we’ll call it their “Abili-Tea”. If their AbiliTea isn’t available to them in the soil, it’s your job to provide them with all the AbiliTea they need.

Fall Tasks to Create and Hold Soluble Nutrients

  • Cover the soil with a mulch mix

  • Plant winter cover crops

  • Install berms and swales on slopes

  • Create a rain garden

  • Get your soil tested

  • Take a soil test

  • Apply appropriate nutrients

Tip 2: Flow Like a River

Soil is made up of lots of different types of particles: ground up rock dust, clay, shredded plant material, dead worms, seeds, and the list goes on. Not all particles are created equally, they all have different shapes and sizes to them and create random empty space when piled on top of each other. The empty spaces are called “pore spaces” and “water channels”. These spaces are to the soil ecosystem what rivers and estuaries are to us. A cubic meter of good, loamy soil goes something like this :

45% minerals 5% organic matter 25% water 25% air

When soil is compacted by foot traffic and lawn mowers, that same cubic meter of good loamy soil quickly turns into something along the lines of:

80% minerals 8% organic matter 10% water 2% air

The effect is less pore space and less water channels. Nothing can flow within the ecosystem- think hard pans, flooding, landslides. The compacted soil acts as a clogged drain, or tea strainer, preventing the plants from drinking their AbiliTea. Compacted soil equals lots of expensive fertilizers, expensive aeration treatments, expensive damage to property and safety...So:

Fall Tasks to Treat and Prevent Compacted Soils

  • Choose the appropriate cover crops to break up the compaction.

  • Cover bare soil with an appropriate mulch mixture.

  • Establish a path to prevent stepping on and compacting planting space.

Tip 3 “Wow” Your Plants with the pH They’ve Been Asking For!

pH is the master variable; It affects the acidity of the soil by affecting the rate of decomposition, which turns nutrients from a solid to a liquid. Changing the soil pH changes the flavor of the AbiliTea and thus the entire soil ecosystem, your plants included. Master gardeners know how to play the pH game. Not all plants enjoy the same kind of AbiliTea ; You and I like and need different foods. To have the plants you want with the least amount of maintenance, the trick is simply to match the plant to the soil pH. Don’t try to change the pH. That’s expensive and takes a lot of commitment to do ecologically. Instead :

Fall Tasks to Manage Soil pH

  • Take and send in a soil test.

  • Find plants which enjoy the current pH and plant them

  • Cover bare soil with a mulch mixture.

  • Apply appropriate soil amendments as necessary

Tip 4 “Leaf me Alone!”

Leave your leaves. A compacted soil is enough of a challenge to deal with. An expensive challenge. Removing the leaves doesn’t really help in the long run. A compacted soil has fewer water channels and less pore space. If things continue this way and the compaction gets worse, we could be setting ourselves up for flooding, landslides, unending weeds, bare soil- dirt, essentially. The solution? Worms and moles. These critters are to the soil what fish and beavers are to sensitive water environments. They are ecosystem engineers, meaning what they do matters. Moles create large air pockets where before there was rock-hard soil compaction. Worms create smaller water channels and pore space. Worms and moles make the AbiliTea party possible. The worms we want are the ones which eat leaves. Without the leaves the worms search for food elsewhere, taking their food chain, their water channels, and their pore spaces with them. Meaning you’re stuck doing on your dime and time what the worms and moles were doing for free. This fall, try to :

Fall Tasks to Bring Your Soil to Life

  • Leave the leafs

    • Mulch the leaves, as the smaller the leaf bits more saturated the AbiliTea.

  • Plant winter cover crops

  • Go to your favorite tree and make some fallen leaf angels.

In sum: Getting that green thumb is actually fairly simple when you apply the above four tips. So let me leave you with one last tip… As in fall, so in spring. Do something your future you would thank you for. Your perfect garden is waiting. So get to it – you’re going to be glad you did!

From all of us here at EZBFG, we’re excited to help your fall yard get started on the right foot. Happy harvests~

We at E-Z BioFriendly Gardens help homeowners realize their little slice of paradise by designing, renovating, and maintaining their yards with the ecology in mind, so that our clients can feel at home inside and outside their house. We are on a mission to rescue our clients from expensive mistakes because we believe the pursuit of a happy garden is one done in collaboration with nature.