As we are now grasping onto the last ounces of summer, your garden will need some attention if it’s to make it through the colder and wetter months
With one of the hottest summers ever on record now passing us by, your garden has been pretty busy over the last few months, undergoing very long and hot dry spells too. Soon it will be time for your garden to cool down, and with winter up-and-coming, here are our top tips on preparing your garden for the colder times ahead.
Your outside furniture will have served you well during the summer, but now you need to make sure it doesn’t all become needlessly wet, rusty, and perhaps even frozen stiff in parts. Pack away any chairs and tables, as well as the barbecue if it’s a movable one, to prevent them all from becoming victims to the elements through the winter season.
An ideal place to move them to would be the garage or a dedicated storage space such as a garden shed.
You may not have had time during your fun-filled summer to trim the bushes and conifers, but leaving them to overgrow wildly can be problematic for the colder months, especially if it snows, as this will make them harder to cut. You also don’t want to be stuck outside in the cold weather for longer than necessary, so make sure you get them trimmed and tidied up before the chill comes.
Rotting and dying plants and other vegetation in your garden don’t only look untidy; they can also spread disease to other, healthier plants in the surrounding area. Pests and fungus are also a likelihood with older plants, and could incur further problems for your garden. Unwanted insects feeding on your crops throughout the summer may lay eggs on the stalks and leaves, so removing any finished plants helps prevent pests from getting a head start come springtime.
It’s also useful to note that burying old plants in your garden adds organic matter to your soil, which improves soil tilth and overall health.
For most gardeners it tends to be common sense to keep the gardening tools clean, well-oiled and sharp. You may have been too busy in the summer season using your tools, to remember to keep them in perfect condition. Autumn is, therefore, a great time to perfect all your tools by giving them some tender loving care.
Late summer or early autumn is usually an ideal time of the year to sow crops like rye, vetch and clover because, as well as adding nutrients, crops such as these help prevent soil erosion, break up compacted areas and increase levels of organic matter in garden beds. In addition, one way to increase the levels of available nitrogen for garden vegetables is to plant legumes in your garden, such as clover or field peas.
Although some cover crops are hardier than others, it tends to be a general rule of thumb to plant cover crops around one month before your first killing frost.
It’s become common practice to prepare the soil in the spring season, because that’s the time of the year for growth and new life. However, the soil needs time to break down these added nutrients to enrich the soil and become more biologically active. Therefore autumn is a great time to dig in new additions to the soil, such as manure, compost, bone meal, kelp, and rock phosphate.
It’s often best to wait until your soil dries out before deciding to work it and add in extra nutrients, so doing so in autumn means you won’t need to do as much in spring following the damper months. Once you’ve dug in your additions to the soil, covering the bed of soil with sheets of plastic or other coverings will help prevent winter rains from washing the nutrients below the active root zone.
The soil should be ready to be uncovered in dry spring, ready for the enhanced soil to work its magic.
Your compost heap from over the summer should now be ready for use, and you can use this rich material to top up garden beds, add to deficient soils, and fertilise lawns.
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