Many people who have small backyard gardens go through a process of putting their garden to rest for the winter after they harvest. This may involve removing all the plants and roots of the vegetables they have grown, and adding them to a nearby compost pile; tilling the soil, and adding compost, fertilizer and mulch or straw to sink into the garden soil over the winter. Each of these steps can be important for the future use of the garden, but another thing that should be done is to have soil testing performed. You can do this, yourself, or send a soil sample to a professional to be analyzed.

This will tell you what additives or amendments you need before planting next year’s fruits and vegetables in your garden. Some of the plants may have developed fungus or bacteria which spread to the soil. Some areas may have excess nitrogen, while others may be nearly washed out of nutrients needed to grow healthy plants. By soil testing at the end of the growing season, you can amend the soil over the winter, re-test, and plant your new garden in the spring with confidence. The pH level of your gardening soil is important, and the needs can vary from vegetable to vegetable. Achieving healthy and nurturing soil, overall, is the goal for your garden through the winter. You can amend specific areas once you are ready to plant, if necessary.

Gardening is not rocket science, but it is common knowledge that the more you understand about the soil and watering needs of your plants, the better and more productive your garden will be each year.