Even as the growing season comes to a close, fall is still a busy time of year in the garden! In this autumn garden and allotment update, I’ll share what I’ve been up to in September and October. The two main aspects of gardening in the autumn are harvesting and preparing for the dormant season.
In the garden
One of the slightly more mundane tasks is the last mow of the year. We have a mechanical mower and I like to rake the grass clippings to put them in the compost. It takes a bit more time, but it also aerates the lawn at the same time and improves growth.
Feeding the birds is also an important task in the garden. We feed year-round, but it’s particularly important to keep the seed and suet well stocked when the temperature dips. We get robins, finches, tits, pigeons and doves, and starlings.
Since we moved into our home in winter 2019, one of the big autumn tasks was raking leaves from a giant tree at the end of the close. Sadly that tree has been severely pollarded (not sure why). It does mean fewer leaves to clean up, but I liked the tree as it was. The leaves that did fall before the branches were cut ended up in our front yard. I raked these and put them in the compost.
A late September task was disassembling the container garden. This year was a terrible year for tomatoes, and most of my large vine tomatoes got blight before they ripened. ☹ I also only got a few tiny green peppers. I pulled out all of the tomato, pepper, and bean plants and then used the spent compost to mulch the garden beds and raised vegetable bed. Mulching adds nutrients, a protective barrier, and builds volume if the beds have lost soil.
Trimming back the roses and fertilising their bases with manure is also an important task. We have several mature roses in our garden and they tend to bloom into mid-October. This year we are going to do a little experiment and leave on of the roses slightly bushier through winter to give the birds somewhere to shelter. We will then trim back the old branches before the buds start emerging.
One of my most favourite tasks is planting spring bulbs and autumn/winter bedding plants. At this time of year, I can’t help but splurge a bit on pansies, chrysanthemums, and this year I picked up some darling violas. Their shades of purple are just gorgeous, and the bright yellow mums cheer up the back patio!
Public service announcement for the critters. When burning leaves/branches, or mowing tall grass, be sure to check for the critters. I nearly ran over a giant frog hiding in a small piece of tall grass! He was very lucky! Hedgehogs and other critters tend to hide in leaf piles so it’s best to leave the leaves!
At the Allotment
Typically, I’ve somewhat neglected the allotment. Late September and early October are very busy with freshers preparations so I didn’t have time to do any gardening. Each time I visit the allotment I try to tidy up part of the plot and then put the ground “to bed” i.e. covering the plot with tarps/mulching.
Harvesting is also a big job in the allotment. September was spent harvesting loads of potatoes and beetroot, as well as pumpkins. In late October my butternut squashes were ready, and the brussel sprouts and leeks are on their way!
What’s growing: Chard, Perpetual spinach, Brussel sprouts, potatoes, butternut squash (just harvested)
Plans for next year
I’m still undecided about what to do with the allotment, but I am leaning slightly towards giving it another go next year. I also started seeds way too early this year, so I will be waiting until April to start any seeds indoors. I would also really love to grow a load of sweet peas, and I will try again with the sunflowers!