Autumn is definitely here. With the wind that stole my newspaper and almost claimed my hat this morning, I feel quite confident in proclaiming that autumn has arrived. The slanting rain that plagued me on my walk to the shop this morning had me mentally ticking off all the things that I’ve done in my garden recently, wondering whether there was anything I’d left out. There were, of course, a few things; but here’s the most important part of the list that I worked through in my mind:
A final, friendly mow
Lawns can be temperamental at the best of times, but you generally don’t want to (and won’t get the chance to) mow them over winter. Give them a last close trim and make sure that they’ve got the best possible start to spring 2015. If you need to spread some compost or fertiliser over the grass, do so now and try to avoid walking on it over the colder months when frost begins to set in. If there are bare patches or areas where regrowth typically struggles – consider seeding. Corn gluten meal is your friend here, too.
If there’s any crop on the ground, make sure you get rid of it now. If fallen apples, damsons or other fruit remain on the ground over winter – pests can remain alive throughout the season and cause a real problem next year when you think you have a fresh start. Maggots and coddling moths are the prime perpetrators and can also take sanctuary in vegetables that are left on the service. Take a minute to clean up anything that remains in your garden – from apples to leeks, leaves to stalks.
Freezing, cracking and warping
This is a big one for me, one I often forget. It’s easy to remember to bring in your potted plants that won’t winter well, but what about doing a quick pot-check around the garden? That stack of terracotta pots that you’ve got plans for next year? The blue ceramic one your mother-in-law gave you for your birthday that you’ve honestly been meaning to do something with? Terracotta and ceramic don’t cope well with freezing temperatures and you might be greeted with a pile of broken pots when you venture back out in March. Some plastics are at danger too – if in doubt, get them indoors. Whilst on the subject – check every material in your garden, furniture included.
Are you a soil tester?
I like to keep my eye on the quality of my soil, but I can’t claim to be a serial soil tester like some of my colleagues. If you are, however, now is the time to make adjustments and amendments where necessary. Remember it’s nutrients, texture and pH that you’re looking at. Most plants will prefer slightly acidic soil, the best texture is a sandy loam and nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium should be in plentiful supply.