The Autumn Garden


The leaves may be turning amber and beginning to fall but that doesn’t mean there is less to do in the garden. The change of season brings with it a new set of challenges and jobs, as well rewards.


As the season changes and autumn arrives, there is plenty to be done outside the home. Especially for vegetable gardeners who will be kept busy harvesting their annual crops. September is the perfect time to plant bulbs, shrubs, trees, fruit bushes and perennials. When planting, the key to success is sufficient watering. Before planting, soak the root-ball in water, fill the hole with water and allow to drain. Once planted and the hole is filled with soil, water thoroughly. When planting bulbs, mark their position so you don’t forget where they are.

Start a compost bin or heap as autumn will bring with it an abundance of garden waste that can be broken down into nutrient rich organic compost ready for next spring. Clear any old debris and dead or diseased plants. Be careful not to put any material infected with disease or pests in to your compost though as this may just spread the problem further. Remove weeds and add them to your compost or alternatively use a weed-killer.
For fruit and vegetable growers, when your crops are over, it’s time to tidy up. Clear out greenhouses and thoroughly wash them down. When clearing vegetable patches, cut the foliage off peas and beans but leave the roots in the ground. They are high in nitrogen and will enrich the soil. If growing autumn fruiting berries cover them with netting to protect them from birds.

Rose gardeners need to dead head their bushes, removing old flowers before they produce seed.  Take rose cuttings early in September. Take a 12” length of stem, remove the soft tip above the leaf joint and cut below a joint at the base, removing all but the three top leaves. Push it into the soil to about half way and it will begin to root and grow. If you have recently planted large shrubs, or trees you should hose them for up to an hour. Similarly for established plants in dry spells, some will even absorb next season’s flowers if they get too dry.
Keep your lawn well maintained. Long grass is more difficult to cut in damp autumnal conditions than if already fairly short. Apply a high potassium feed to your lawn to harden it for the coming winter.

According to the RHS, the top ten garden jobs for September are:

1. Divide herbaceous perennials.

2. Pick autumn raspberries.

3. Collect and sow seed from perennials and hardy annuals.

4. Dig up remaining potatoes before slug damage spoils them.

5. Net ponds before leaf fall gets underway.

6. Keep up with watering of new plants, using rain water if possible.

7. Start to reduce the frequency of houseplant watering.

8. Clean out cold frames and greenhouses ready for the autumn.

9. Cover leafy vegetable crops with bird-proof netting.

10. Plant spring flowering bulbs.