Frost and snow look beautiful especially at Christmas – but your plants may not be…
With autumn now on its way, this is the perfect time to refresh and tidy up the garden. Although night time temperatures are beginning to get much cooler, daytime temperatures can still be quite high, so many plants may need watering regularly. Feed and dead head hanging baskets and annuals, as this will bring on another flush of flowers until the first frosts begin.
Mowing the lawn remains a necessity. Grass will continue to grow steadily over the next few weeks and it can quickly begin to look untidy if left untouched. Use a strimmer to prevent grass growing over the edge of flowerbeds and borders. If you have any areas of long grass, take care to make sure that there are no hedgehogs taking shelter in the grass before strimming.
Gaps in borders can be filled with autumn flowering plants such as sedum and chrysanthemum. These will add valuable colour as well as providing food for bees. Many of these plants will continue flowering until quite late in the autumn as long as they are deadheaded regularly.
Blackberries and the first apples are now coming into season within the vegetable garden. Check daily for ripeness and pick frequently for the best crops. Apples should be lifted gently with one hand and twisted slightly. If they come away easily from the tree, they are ready for harvesting. Take care to pick up any fruit that has fallen to the ground as this can encourage wasps to gather. Wasp stings can be unpleasant and even dangerous for some people, so it is wise to avoid the risk of problems. Any fruit that has begun to rot can be placed in the compost bin.
Pinch out the tops of tomato plants. This will encourage the plant to concentrate on ripening existing fruits. Place pumpkins and squashes on a piece of wood or plastic to keep them clean and dry away from the wet soil. This will reduce the risk of any rot developing. Remove any leaves that are shadowing the fruits. Gently pinch a kernel on sweetcorn plants – if it a milky liquid appears, pick the fruit immediately. Cook as quickly as possible. This will ensure that the full taste and sweetness of the sweetcorn can be enjoyed. Lastly, harvest any remaining onions in the vegetable patch letting them dry off for a short while in the sunlight.