With us just past the official start of autumn, signs of change in our gardens are becoming all too apparent. How can you best prepare for the next season?
With the weather turning cooler and wetter and our gardens subtly changing in appearance every day, talk on the Which? Gardening Facebook group has turned to preparing for autumn.
With these discussions in mind, I took to Facebook live to dish out some much needed advice for avid gardeners.
Unlike summer – which is often filled with a lot of watering and maintenance – the transition of autumn can often be a quieter time in our gardens, so what gardening activities can you be getting on with in September?
As with gardening in all seasons, autumn’s an important time to be planning ahead: so for me, this time of year’s a perfect moment to start buying and planting your bulbs for next spring.
You’ll find garden centres right now will have the best variety of bulbs, so you can really pick and choose what you like before they run out.
You don’t need to plant them straight away, but the sooner the better with most bulbs.
Our recent testing found that you can normally get away with planting bulbs as late as November or December, although the later planting ones tend to give shorter plants with flowers that last less long.
My guest on the Facebook live, Guy Barter, Chief Horticulturalist at the RHS, had advice for anyone growing vegetables in their garden:
“Although I’m pretty fed up with my allotment after a summer of hard watering, this time of year is a really good time to start some food crops.
“So this morning I bought some onion sets. You put these in the ground now and with any luck harvest them in June or July.
“I also sow seeds at this time of year: spinach and some lettuces. The lettuce I’ll sow is called ‘Winter Density’, which is particularly pleasant and tasty and will be ready to eat by April.”
Now’s a good time to be looking at your pumpkins and squash – a lot of them will be just about ready to harvest.
You can check by just giving them a knock with your knuckle. When they’re ready they’ll give a much more hollow sound; as opposed to a solid sound when they’re unripe.
After you’ve cut them from the plant, you’ll need to leave them outside for a couple of days; then transfer them to a greenhouse if you have one for about a week; and then you can put them somewhere dry and cool in your house.
Remember though, it’s the pumpkins that will go off first, so use those before you use the squash.
We’ve had a really warm summer. It’s been almost wall-to-wall non-stop sunshine. And that’s both good and bad news for gardeners.
Some plants have absolutely thrived in this hot weather: think of the ones that like warmer, more mediterranean type conditions.
My lawn though on the other hand, is looking desperate. It’s so dry, i’m afraid I’m going to have to re-sow it.
First, I’ll need to get out all the weeds, then fork it over, put bit of fertiliser on there, something like Growmore, and then I’ll re-sow it with one of our Best Buy grass seeds. And then hopefully it should start sprouting before the cold weather, giving it a head start on next spring.
What are you doing in the garden at this time of year? Or are you just taking a well-deserved break in your garden after all that watering in the summer? Do you have any tips for autumn gardening?