Autumn has well and truly arrived, with the leaves in the trees now noticeably changing into an array of golds, yellows and reds. You may be thinking of preparing your garden for the winter and hoping to retain some of the summer joy, with fresh blooms guaranteed to give you a lift, or wondering what to grow next? We’ve put a few tips together to start the inspiration rolling…
Autumn is the time for planting bulbs for spring flowers, such as daffodils, hyacinths and snowdrops, whilst quite a few varieties of Agapanthus, such as White Heaven, Midnight Star and Purple Cloud, can be planted at this time for summer blooms. If you would like some colour in your garden right now, dahlias, chrysanthemums and carnations will be blooming and no doubt available to purchase in your local garden centre.
Growing your own vegetables
If you do like to grow your own vegetables, or would like to give it a try, the following can be grown in the greenhouse over winter: land cress, winter gem lettuce, mustard, kale and carrots, as well as the slightly exotic, pak choi.
Outside, onions and their close relations, garlic and shallots, can be planted ready for spring yield, as well as brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, broad beans, peas and asparagus. Seed potatoes can also be planted in pots now and moved into a polytunnel or greenhouse when the first frosts bite. An apple tree planted at this time will also grow blossoms in the coming spring – but make sure you give it a good start with plenty of water before the frosts set in and the soil hardens.
Give your tools a little TLC, perhaps oil your shears and service the lawnmower. You may even want to prepare for next year’s garden by buying some new tools ready, with a lot of garden equipment selling for lower prices at this time of year.
If you have a greenhouse, then it is a great step to clean the windows with white vinegar, mixed with an equal amount of tap water in a spray bottle. This not only allows more sunlight into the space to feed your plants in the greyer, cloudier months, but also helps to stop any diseases from spreading in your plants and avoid exposing your plants to harmful chemicals.
Tidy up borders, sweep up any garden debris and dig up any finished annuals for composting. To keep the soil rich in nutrients, spread with a thick layer of compost. Keep in mind that although many peat-based composts are unsustainable, there are plenty of peat-free alternatives available. You can make your garden more environmentally friendly by creating your own compost in preparation for the future months. You can compost lawn clippings, some wood ash and leaves as well as your normal vegetable food waste – you may find it useful to purchase a compost bin. If you collect any leaves separately, these can be mulched in a wire mesh, or a plastic bag with holes in, by making sure they are damp and storing to one side for 1-2 years.
It is a good idea to aerate the lawn in autumn, doing this prevents moss and it may well need a bit of tlc at this time of year. Whilst it is a good idea to brush in an autumn lawn fertiliser, which can be compost, leaf mould or green waste. A good environmental source of phosphates is dandelion roots, which can be soaked in water for two weeks and then watered onto your lawn.
With the deluges of rain we have been subject to recently, this is undoubtedly a great time to collect water! So, if you haven’t got one already, you could purchase a water butt – it doesn’t have to be made of plastic, a wooden barrel will also perform the task. If you are really serious about conserving water and have enough space in your garden, you could also invest in an underground water tank.