Autumn Jobs for the Gardener

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Your garden may start slowing down in autumn, but it’s far from inactive, and you shouldn’t be either. Help prepare your garden for winter and enjoy the last of the light evenings before the clocks go back.

Clean Your Greenhouse

Autumn is the ideal time of year to give your greenhouse a good clean both inside and out. Remove any shading from the outside and thoroughly wash the glass on the roof and walls to allow your seedlings to benefit as much as possible from weak winter and early spring sun. Inside, remove any plants and sweep any debris out before disinfecting walls and surfaces with a suitable solution. Finally, clean out your pots and seedling trays ready for winter planting.

Dig Up Annuals

Give spent annuals a new way of brightening up your garden by digging them up and adding them to your compost heap. With summer growth out of the way, you can see your garden better to tidy the borders and identify any gaps or uneven planting. It is still warm enough in autumn to be able to move or divide perennials. Remove any seed pods for planting later, then cover your borders with a good layer of compost or manure to nourish the soil over winter.

Turn Your Compost Heap

All your weeding, raking, and tidying will generate a lot of material for your compost heap. If your compost isn’t ready to use yet, give it a vigorous turn to allow it to aerate and break down faster before you add anything new to it. Shredding large leaves and evergreen waste before putting it on the compost heap will help it decompose faster so that it’s ready for you to use in the spring.

Lift Delicate Plants

A clean greenhouse is the perfect place for plants too delicate to survive in the frosty ground, such as begonias. Start withholding water and allow them to die back naturally before lifting the plant and roots and storing somewhere dry for a few weeks. Once the root has hardened, brush off the dirt, and cut away old roots and stems using a sterilised knife. Potted plants can stay in their containers as long as they winter indoors.

Secure Plants and Buildings

Blustery winds can mean death for saplings and plants not robust enough to withstand them. Stake them, or move plants to somewhere more sheltered. Frost can get into cracks in glass, bricks, and paving stones and expand, so repair or replace these where necessary to avoid further damage. Finally, give your tools a clean and sharpen (or get a specialist company to do this for you) and oil anything that needs protecting against rust.