It’s the end of a growing season and we hope you’ve enjoyed a bumper harvest. As we start (rather belatedly) to feel the chill of autumn in the morning air, it’s time to prepare your garden or allotment for winter – and next spring! Here are ten things to do in your garden this autumn:
1) Plant bulbs
Now’s the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs, like daffodils, crocus, hyacinths and tulips. This can be done in borders or in container but remember to remove all weeds and add plenty of organic compost to the soil first. You should also plant them really deep, about three to four times as deep as the length of the bulb itself.
2) Plant winter-hardy vegetables
Onions have a long growing season and need to be planted now in order to be ready next summer. It’s a good idea to mark where you’ve planted them though, so when you come to plant other seeds in the spring, you don’t plant on top of them. Garlic, broad beans and asparagus can also be planted now.
3) Plant hardy annuals
Annuals, as the name suggests, are plants that last a single year. If you sow these in autumn instead of spring, you’ll be able to enjoy a much earlier flowering display. Annuals that can generally withstand a British winter are bishop’s weed, quaking-grass, pot marigolds, cornflowers, larkspurs, flax, honesty, poppies and love-in-a-mist.
4) Tidy up hedges and borders
This is the time of year that you can give everything a haircut. Anything overgrown should be cut back. Summer annuals can be pulled up and added to the compost heap.
5) Make leaf mould
Sweep up all the beautifully crinkled autumn leaves in your garden and then put them in some bin bags. Tie the bags up and put a couple of holes in them. Leave them for around two years and you will have leaf mould. Good quality leaf mould can be used as a seed-sowing compost or as a mulch.
6) Move delicate plants indoors or into a greenhouse
The temperatures are finally dropping, so it’s time to think about protecting any tender potted plants – like herbs, olive trees or young palms – from the worst of the winter weather. If you’re bringing plants indoors you need to do this in stages. Acclimatise them by bringing them in just overnight at first. Over the course of two weeks, gradually increase the amount of time they spend indoors until they’re there full-time.
7) Finish collecting seeds to grow next year
Seed can be saved from many trees, shrubs, perennials, aquatic plants, alpines, annuals, biennials, bulbous plants, ornamental grasses vegetables and herbs. Pick them from healthy plants on a dry day and then lay the seeds – including catkins, cones, nuts, pods and winged seeds – out on a greenhouse bench or warm windowsill. With berries, mash them through a sieve, discard the pulp and pick out the seed.
8) Maintain garden equipment
Before you put away any electrical equipment for the winter, like a lawnmower or leaf blower, this is the time to have it serviced to check that all is in working order.
9) Clear our your shed
Never mind a spring clean, in gardening you need an autumn clean. Wash all your pots and gardening tools. Sharpen pruning shears and scythes. Re-organise your shed, perhaps with new storage racks or wall-mounted hooks.
10) Add enriched biochar to your soil
Autumn-winter is the best time to feed your soil and start rejuvenating its microbial ecosystem in preparation for next year’s growing season. One of the best ways to do this is with the addition of the eco-friendly charcoal known as biochar. Sacred Earth’s Biochar Soil Booster is further enriched with seaweed, comfrey tea and biodynamic compost preparations to make one of the most nourishing soil amendments around. Buy some here.