Here's some advice on how to keep on top of your garden, as we transition into Autumn.
If you have heavy clay soil, make a start on digging it over, leaving the lumps to be broken down by frost over winter. If you have any used compost, which will improve the soil structure, incorporate it as you go.
When leaves have fallen then this is the time to give your soft fruit, blackcurrants, blackberries and all the hybrids some shaping while they are dormant. Remember that many of these appear on the previous year’s growth, e.g. raspberries and blackcurrants.
When your crops of tomatoes etc. have finished, thoroughly clean greenhouses and cold frames while the days are still warm enough for them to dry out.
Birds (especially pigeons) are fond of leafy green vegetables, so deter them with netting or lengths of black thread tightly stretched across and around the plants.
Keep harvesting runner and French beans; like many vegetables (including courgettes), they will keep trying to produce more as long as they’re not allowed to set seed - it’s the same principle as dead-heading ornamental plants. But there comes a time when they really have finished, so cut them off at ground level, leaving the roots, which will have collected valuable nitrogen, in the ground.
Plant over-wintering onion sets and garlic and continue to sow winter lettuces - start in modules under cover (there are several varieties with varying degrees of hardiness: lamb’s lettuce, Winter Density, Valdor and All the Year Round are just a few).
It is time to think about ordering new fruit trees and move existing ones (and shrubs) while the ground is still warm.
Keep on top of tidying jobs but leave as many ornamental seed-heads as possible; they can look good, especially frosted, and provide food for birds. Attracting these to the garden can also help with pest control, as they will eat the eggs and larvae of some nuisance bugs.
Houseplants will need watering less often, and don't need to be fed any more this year.
Cover ponds with nets before heavy leaf-fall clogs them up – remember to remove the collected leaves before they weigh the net down or start to rot.
Words: Inspire Community Garden
Picture: Robert Nixon Betts