Autumn – A Great Time to be in the Garden

By our gardening guru, Caitlin Sawyer


With the nice drop of rain that I was sure we’d never get, it’s now a great time to venture out and really enjoy the garden again. You’ll start to see the Tibochinas bud up and flower, filling our streets with quaint dabbles of purple everywhere. It’s a really good signal, and a good time to get out and get the garden flourishing again. So what can we do?

Moving into autumn, there are lots of things, particularly in the vegetable patch. It’s now time to get out, build trellises and sow seeds, plant seedlings in readiness for winter with Onions, Peas, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage and, not everyone’s favourite but worth a mention, Brussels Sprouts. But, before any of this, there are things we should do that are fundamental to getting a good crop. One of the things I’m doing now is improving the soil. Proper preparation of soil will ensure nice strong, healthy vigorous plants, that will almost certainly overload plates at dinner time. This is done simply, by firstly getting the PH at a suitable level by adding dolomite or lime to buffer PH. I find dolomite slightly better than lime, as it has a few added elements  that lime lacks. Although either will be sufficient, remember that the main goal is PH. Next, Organic matter should be added. Composted animal manures are great for this or, if you’re lucky enough to have a compost bin, time to get into it. This will have the micro-organisms in your soil booming, making all the nutrients in the soil available to all your veggies. Lastly, a small amount of mineral based fertilizer should be added to replace any trace elements lost from previous plantings. Turning the soil with all these goodies will help aerate the soil and get all those nutrients down where they need to be. With this you’ll be ready to plant! If you’re not fussed on seeds, then come and see us at Wingham Nursery, and we’ll give you a head start with all our winter seedlings.

Being autumn, it’s still warm enough, so plants are still actively growing before the cooler months. If you’ve got a favourite Salvia, or you neighbour has a lovely plant that you’ve been admiring, time to go over for a chat and a cup of tea, and swap some cuttings for propagation. After all, that’s what gardening is about!

Or, if you’ve still got a bit of space, it’s also a great time to replant flowering annuals, such as beloved old favourites like Pansies, Sweet peas and Primula.  These plants add a great splash of colour.

With all of this, the garden should be looking fantastic. But, if you are unfortunate, your lawn will not be looking as great. Unfortunately, at this time of year, it’s not just us that are busy, but the dreaded Army worm too. Now that the heat has gone, it is the perfect time for the Army worm come to feed on our lovely healthy lawn roots. Tell-tale signs are brown and straw-like patches in your lawn or the leaves on your lawn’s grass runners disappearing. Bear in mind that your lawn may be recovering from the heat too. A sure fire way of telling (and an old wives tale which I’ve proven to be true) is by adding a soapy water solution to a suspected area in the evening, and then covering with an old piece of carpet overnight. If Army worms are present, they will have burrowed themselves to the surface under the carpet to avoid the soapy water by morning. If this is the case, and Army worms are present, then treatment is necessary. A flock of Magpies do a brilliant job but, if all else fails, granules or a drench specified for Army Worm will do too.

So, there are lots of things to do, it’s a beautiful time to get out into the garden and enjoy the lovely change that  autumn brings.

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