Daffodils, hyacinth and crocus can all start to be planted now ready for a jewel-like display of colour in the early spring. You might also want to plant amaryllis bulbs for forcing, ready to bloom at Christmas. Now is also the time to plan, order and purchase other spring bulbs like tulips, as rare or popular varieties sell our early.
Divide to multiply…
Early autumn is the perfect time to start increasing your plant stock by division and to begin to think about the structure and design of your borders for next year. As plants die back you’ll begin to see where the gaps are, or where you might want more impact from your favourite plants next year. To divide a herbaceous plant use a sharp, clean spade or two forks to slice or prize the root ball apart into smaller pieces. The strongest growth will be on the outside of the plant, but it’s worth checking the best way to propogate or divide plants by checking the comprehensive RHS website.
It’s almost like the battle-cry of the diligent gardener, but regular dead-heading will keep flowers coming well into the autumn.
Prune late summer flowering shrubs as the flowers fade.
As the soil is still warm and easy to dig, autumn is a great time to plant trees, allowing them to get settled and established before their sap rises in the spring. As the leaves drop, it’s also easier to see the structure of the garden, and place trees appropriately, before the foliage of spring and summer arrive.
Harvest sweetcorn – it should have a milky sap when you squeeze a kernel. If the sap is watery they need to ripen a little more, if it’s starchy, they’re over-ripe.
Remove the foliage from main crop potatoes a couple of weeks before you lift them, to reduce the risk of blight. Once dug, leave the potatoes on dry hessian in a cool place for a few hours to dry out before storing them.
Harvest beans regularly to prevent them become tough and remove leaves that are shading pumpkins to encourage them to ripen for Halloween.
Start to tidy fading crops and foliage in the veg patch and think about tidying up for the winter. As you harvest crops consider freezing, preserving and pickling to make best use of any ‘gluts’ you have.
Plant autumn onion sets and garlic towards the end of the month.
You may have noticed that unchecked strawberry runners are trying to take over the garden. Pot up the runners and you’ll have new plants ready to over winter in the green house for next year. Clear away straw from this year’s plants to discourage diseases over the winter.
Harvest plums as they ripen and pick apples only when they come away easily in the palm of your hand. If you need to tug them, they’re not ready. Remove any rotting fruit from the trees as this reduces infection.
Cut back fruited canes of summer raspberries and tie in the green canes for next year’s crop.
Clean the greenhouse and empty out old pots.
Remove pond debris.
Re-fresh your lawn with a top-dressing.
Last but not least…
Enjoy the golden autumn light and the last of the warm days.