How to Build Soil over Winter Ready for Spring to Grow Amazing Vegetables


Now, you might be thinking what earth is going on here? And the answer is we’re building new earth, what we’re doing we’re building a rich and healthy organic soil over the autumn, winter and early spring months ready for the next growing season. We do have black plastic but under this is where the real magic is happening. What we do around our vegetable garden is we put our beds to sleep in the autumn so we have well rotted cow manure. Now cow manure is not only high nitrogen, but it’s high in organic matter because it’s mixed with straw. So you place a layer which is around 3 inches, so just over seven centimeters, of this over the top of the raised bed. Now we don’t even bother digging this in. What we do is we let the earth worms and other microbes get to work with composting this down into a lovely rich soil. And we don’t have to do any of that digging in, and it’s always a no-dig system. Now we do use black plastic it might not be the best thing but the reason why we use it, is because it protects it from the elements also the black, the colour black is really good at absorbing heat. So it is a cold day it is, it’s only about 2 degrees Celsius (35F) but the sun’s out and this is actually absorbing the heat and the energy, the thermal energy from the Sun which is warming the ground and the soil underneath it so that means early in spring what we’re doing is we’re creating and we’re warming this bed up so what’s happening is that early on in spring when all the bare raised beds are still quite cold, what’s happening here is that this is going to be a lot warmer for them so this as a result means we can plant in this earlier because the black plastic has helped warm this up. It also creates a better environment for earthworms and other microbes which compost the soil to work in. Now this is a really easy system to set up all you need is a source of organic matter which is high in nitrogen but also has some nice fibers in so you can really work on the soil where it can also retain moisture. You just want to place a layer like I said before about three inches so just over seven centimeters across the surface of the raised bed, then you can use black plastic or you might want to use if you don’t want to use black plastic you could use other dark materials such as leaves fallen leaves to place a thick layer over the top and then with black plastic what you do is either you can weigh it down or using a spade around their edges, just poke it in and you’ll see now how that works and that’s really effective. So you want to do this around mid to late autumn when you’ve done your last harvest and then overwinter you won’t know what’s going on underneath but when you unveil it in the spring, you’ll see that is working really really nicely and you’ll be able to see how healthy the soil is and then you’ll soon be able to plant straight into it. And one final thing I want to note, is that you don’t get the problem of weeds because if you can see I’m not sure if you can see hopefully you can you’ll be able to see a few weeds in this bad, raised bed which hasn’t been covered over and especially during spring weeds will start to come out of nowhere if you haven’t protected the surface. But using something like this, such as black plastic, or a mulch, it means you don’t have to weed your bed before you plant into it so it’s just saving time you’re building soil, you’re making it a lot healthier and you can start earlier. So I really hope this has either sparked your imagination or you’ve got interested in starting thing, maybe you do something similar I’d love to know and if you have any questions or comments I’d love to see them and answer them so thank you once again don’t forget to rate this video and I’ll see you again very soon goodbye 🙂

34 thoughts on “How to Build Soil over Winter Ready for Spring to Grow Amazing Vegetables

  1. curious that you put this on in January, saying that it should be done in autumn. wouldn't it have been more useful to do it in September? or did you do that too?

  2. Hi Huw, I'd like to see how you grow some vegetables from seed, which types of pots, soil you use and how often to water them, where to start them off i.e window sill or green house? I hope you are doing well. 😉

  3. Love this growers series. We are on Vancouver Island wit an almost similar climate as South England. This series is very helpful and well produced. What about crop cycling and rotating differing plants into different beds in sequential year?. What sequence or cycle is best to get the most out of soil and healthy permaculture planting? E.G. beets, broccoli, beans, corn, carrots, parsley, potatoes, etc.

  4. Would rabbit manure mixed with straw and hay be good compost for this application? I am in the United States and raise rabbits. New to gardening.

  5. Hi Huw great video thanks for sharing :). I've done something similar with my plot, could you leave the sheets on throughout the summer? was thinking it would stop any weeda from coming through and protect my squashes. take care jenny

  6. cover mine with a thick layer of fresh woodchips with leaves included…and just leave it…I didn't want to buy the plastic…the soil is great in the spring.
    great video cheers
    Gilly in norfolk uk

  7. Hi, thanks for the idea! I am curious Can this be done directly on ground or is a raised bed better for some reason? Thanks!!

  8. This exactly what I do on my current small allotment, but now I have been given a part of a field , 6m x50m it's all ope ground and I want to make it into raised beds so can do what you do but not sure how wide I should make the beds, I already have the plastic in two widths 1m and two metre, I will be g owing all sorts but mainly stuff that takes longer to grow like onions garlic and brassicas, as I will be growing the quicker stuff at home, what can you suggest, cheers , Steve

  9. We're going to try this method this winter. Your videos are inspirational 🙂 thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  10. We live where we have great river loam soil. We are wanting to built some raised bed gardens where we currently have a lawn. My plan is to use a sod cutter to remove the grass over a large area and remove the soil down a few inches to fill the garden boxes. Then use landscape rock to fill the area of soil removal around the boxes. I'm planing to do this n the fall so that I will have everything ready by the spring for planting. My question is can I just use the loam soil to fill the boxes and then use the method from the video do have the soil ready for spring? Do I need anything else mixed in with the soil? Again we have great soil. Our neighbor has a great garden every year with standard planting (no raised beds). Thanks in advance for you thoughts and input!

  11. Thanks for the great videos. Just a quick question, I have just covered my raised beds with a layer of leaves to mulch over winter. Would you cover the beds with plastic and should I have shredded them first? Which I didn’t!

  12. Hugh, could I use a black tarpaulin instead of black plastic? We live in a very exposed position on a south facing mountainside in North Wales, any natural mulches such as leaves would not stay on our beds for very long at all.

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