Grow to eat: feed your soil this winter to eat better next season

Many crops depend on fertile soil
Many crops require fertile soil Credit: Dougal Waters / Digital Vision

An important autumn job is to recharge your veg plot’s batteries by improving the soil with organic matter. The words “soil” and “organic matter” in the same sentence may have prepared you for mind-numbing tedium, but don’t switch off just yet; your cabbages and potatoes depend on it.

This weekend, add a layer of well-rotted compost or manure 2-3in (5-10cm) deep to your empty beds to keep soil healthy and full of nutrients for crops to grow. Organic matter also improves the water retention of sandy soils and the structure of clay. Home-made compost is best, and free, but always in limited supply. I buy extra locally, which can be expensive, but I keep costs to a minimum with some thrifty planning....

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