If you have a green house why not give it a ‘spring clean’ before the cold of winter sets in, they you are in a fantastic position to start afresh next spring. Remove any plants and sweep out any debris, disinfect the paths, staging and inside windows then leave ventilated to dry out and replace plants. This will reduce the chances of overwintering any pests or diseases.
It’s also a good time to service a lawnmower, sharpen the shears and give some TLC to tools, a good wash, dry and oiling.
If you are looking to grow some crops over winter for the spring there are some options. Grow over winter outdoors: Onions, Shallots, Garlic, Spring Onions, Perpetual Spinach, Broad Beans, Peas and Asparagus. Grow over winter in greenhouse: Winter Salads (Land Cress, Lambs Lettuce, Winter Gem Lettuce, Mustard), Carrots and Pac Choi.
Now is the time to tidy up the borders. Dig up any finished annuals for composting and replace with winter bedding plants such as Pansies, Bellis Daises and Wallflowers for a colourful display in the spring. It’s also a good time to move any poorly placed plants and divide overcrowded perennials. General advice is to cut back faded perennials to 5cm above ground level.
Evergreens are ideal to provide all year colour and fill any gaps in the borders. Sarcococca and Daphne flower in the winter, whilst larger flowering shrubs Camellias flowers in spring and Fatsia provide large architectural foliage.
More fragile species such as Begonias, Dahlias and Cannas should be moved away from the threat of frost, cut back the stems and gently loft the root (tubers/rhizomes) from the ground. Clean off the soil and store in trays of dry sand or compost with just the crown visible. Then kept in a cool frost free place, they will be ready to be replanted in the spring. With our often milder winters in the south a thick blanket of mulch may be suitable to overwinter the plants in the ground.
Once borders are clean and tidy spread with a thick layer of compost, bark chips or rotted manure to keep the soil rich in nutrients and looking fresh.
If the lawn is looking less than its best, Autumn is a good time to revitalise it. Clear the lawn of grass cuttings and moss for composting, moss killer may be required if there is a lot of it. Make holes with a garden fork to aerate and improve draining of compacted ground such as pathways. Autumn lawn feed jan help with rejuvenation and if you are intending to lay turf doing it now gives plenty of time to get established by the summer.
If you have a lot of leaves falling into your garden, they are a great resource to make leaf mould mulch. Collect the leaves and store them in a wire mesh bin or plastic bag with holes punched in the side, ensure the leaves are damp then store somewhere suitably out of the way to mulch down over a 1 – 2 year period.
If you have a pond you should be aware that decomposing leaves can change the oxygen levels in the water through a process called eutrophication, caused by an imbalance of nitrates in the pond as the leaves decay. The decaying waste can also block pumps and filters so the best method to prevent this is to stop the leaves getting into the pond by spreading a fine meshed net across it and pinning that down with bricks or stones to keep it secure, leaves can them be collected and composted.
The clearing up in autumn can generate a lot of plant material for composting. This is a great opportunity to use up last years’ compost, spread on the tidy borders, then start afresh with this autumns waste.
These preparations give your garden he best chance of survival throughout the winter, leaving it primed and ready for more attention in the spring.