As autumn approaches, it’s time to start getting your garden prepared for the cooler conditions. After all, with our unpredictable weather, you never know when a chilly spell will hit. You certainly won’t want the weather to cause any damage to your carefully grown fruit and vegetables. That’s why we’ve created this handy guide. With this autumn check-in, we’ll take you through the essential to-dos for the upcoming months to get your garden in tip-top shape.
Start your autumn clean up
Start the season off right with a good clean up. Get your trowel out and carry out any weeding that needs to be done, remove any debris from your garden beds and tidy up your borders. This will not only help improve the appearance of your garden, but a clean space makes it easier to identify what other tasks need to be done and give you the space to carry them out in peace. If you have a cold frame or greenhouse, you’ll also need to give them a clean-out to prepare them for use throughout winter.
Pick autumn raspberries
Your autumn fruiting raspberries will start to be ready to harvest this month. Harvest regularly from now until the first frost to get the fruits at the peak of their ripeness. They should be plump and easy to pull off the stem. Just make sure you use a gentle touch to avoid damaging the fruit. We also recommend picking the berries in the morning on a dry day, as damp berries can turn mouldy.
Sow your greens
September is the time to start planting your hardy greens like kale, lamb’s lettuce and pak choi so that they can be ready for a winter harvest. Just prepare your soil by loosening it with your garden fork, adding some organic matter and then sowing your seeds. You can sow some varieties directly into the ground, while others work best when started inside and then later transplanted. Just carry out a little research to see what works best for the variety you have chosen. Keep the soil watered consistently during the germination process and have a covering on hand to protect them from any harsh weather conditions.
Pot up your herbs
Pot the herbs currently in your garden so that they can sit inside during the colder autumn and winter months. This is a fairly simple process that you’ll need to carry out a few weeks before the first expected frost date. Just select pots with drainage holes, fill them with a potting mix, and use a trowel to transplant them from garden to pot. Prune the herbs before transplanting so that they are neater and easier to collect. Water thoroughly after this process is complete and keep the pots on a sunny windowsill.
Prepare your garden for possible storms
Preparing to protect your plants is critical during autumn. You won’t want a bad weather spell to disrupt your progress. You may even want to complete this task in September if you are particularly worried about this. Start by staking tall plants to provide them with extra support. This is particularly helpful with tomatoes and broad bean plants. Simply insert a tall pole and secure it to your plant using twine. You should also test your garden fences and trellis to make sure they are properly secured so that they won’t blow away or become damaged during a storm. Keep an eye on the weather forecast, and when it looks like a storm is fast approaching, cover your fragile plants with a tarp or protective sheeting.
Plant root vegetables
Early autumn is a great time to plant root veggies in your vegetable patch. Squashes, sweet potatoes and even kale and broccoli are great for autumn planting. October is a good time for sowing early carrot seeds. More tender than main crop carrots, if planted this month they can grow throughout the winter and be enjoyed in spring. When planting, remember to sow in shallow drills approximately 1cm deep and 30cm apart and cover with soil. You should also consider having a cover on hand to protect them from harsh weather as the season continues.
Cut back berry bushes
Once you have finished picking your autumn fruiting raspberries, it’s time to cut them back. You’ll need to do this to maintain the plant’s health and a productive harvest for future seasons. Removing old canes also helps to prevent the spread of diseases or pests that may have affected them during the growing season. Use sharp, clean pruning tools to cut all the canes to the ground and dispose of your cuttings by composting them. Once pruned, apply compost made from organic matter to add nutrients, ready for the next growing season.
Clear away old crops
Make clearing away old crops a priority this month. Old, dead crops can harbour pests and diseases that can infect nearby plants. That’s why it’s crucial that before the frosty weather makes them harder to remove, you pull them from your vegetable plot. Simply use your spade to dig a circle around the dead remains, then pry up the roots and throw them out. You can cover the space with a layer of soil and organic matter to get it ready for future planting.
Scoop up fallen leaves
At the start of this month, take some time to rake up any fallen leaves in your garden. Not only will this help maintain the appearance of your garden, but it will also help with disease prevention. New gardeners may not initially see the harm in a few fallen leaves; however, seasoned green-thumbed enthusiasts will know that fallen leaves can become a breeding ground for diseases. These diseases could spread to your vegetables and herbs, so it’s best to prioritise regularly removing stray leaves. Collect them in a bag and then add them to your garden compost pile. They will then release nutrients back and can be used to enrich your soil in future seasons.
Check in with your harvested crops
Now that the weather is cooling and you won’t be harvesting much until springtime, you should check in with your stored crops. Regularly inspecting (and cleaning) your storeroom is important as you’ll need to check your produce for rot and mould. It’s best to identify any issues early on. You don’t want to walk in one day to find your harvest moulded and completely unusable.
Signs of rot and mould include unusual discolouration on your turnip, radish or other veggies. Soft, mushy patches on your veg is also not a good sign, nor is fuzzy or powdery growth on the skin. Also, keep a look out for irregular spots or wrinkling, and if you notice an unpleasant odour coming from your storage room, you’ll need to act immediately. If you notice any of these signs on your crop, remove them immediately before the disease has a chance to spread to the rest of your veggies.
Put protective covers over plants and furniture
Before the worst of the colder conditions, like frost, wind, and snow starts to take effect, protect your plants and outdoor furniture with some covers. While it is best to take the most fragile plants and garden furniture inside, this is not always possible. So investing in some frost covers that can be draped over your garden beds is well worth it. You may also want to move your compost bins under cover to prevent the contents from freezing.
Clean and put away your equipment
As you wind down and prepare for winter, it’s a great time to service your equipment and store it safely away. For the most part, you won’t be carrying out any major gardening activities over the next few weeks, so it’s a great time to get this done. We recommend cleaning your cutting tools with some wire wool. This will help remove any sap collected from previous harvests. You can use this with oil to help loosen the dirt. You should also wash any muddy tools with your garden hose before patting them dry and applying a thin layer of protective oil. Tighten any loose screws and sort out any stiff blades, then store them in a clean room that can be locked and allows your sharp tools to be kept out of the reach of children and animals.
Not only will cleaning and fixing your tools help limit the spread of diseases, but it will also dramatically decrease the risk of accidents from stiff, broken tools. It’s great to know that you have your shiny, clean tools waiting for you when it’s time to get back at it.
Now that you know just what to do over the next few months, we hope you enjoy the planting time, harvesting, and watching your vegetable garden really come to life. To get things moving, check out our impressive range of plants online now. Or, if you wish to learn even more ways to make your garden great, you can check out our knowledge hub. Plus, don’t hesitate to contact us on social media (@gardeningexpress). We would love to hear from you!