Ahhh, Autumn, you fickle beast you (something The Mamas And The Papas will happily confirm).
To offer you an explanation, it’s that time of the year where gardeners are divided down the middle – the optimists, megalomaniacs and narcissists choosing to look back on the past two seasons with pride and glee, while the more pessimistic, self-doubting altruists decide to focus on their backyard shortcomings, threatening to throw in the towel once and for all.
But don’t. Don’t you dare!
Yes, you may have endured a few hiccups and stomached several disappointments, but the fat lady hasn’t sung yet. Autumn or not, there is still plenty of time to get a bit of last-minute gardening maintenance in before winter strikes the gong.
For some of you, this may have drawn out a big sigh of disbelief, and possibly even made your eyes roll. And we get it. You thought you were done for the year. But there is a silver lining: Autumn gardening is the best. Maybe not compared to winning the lottery or something, but it is definitely up there with finding £1.80 down the back of your sofa only to hit the real jackpot when you walk into the pub, pop that money in the fruity and watch as all the lights start flashing and the sound of coins, coins and more coins hitting the tray rings out. Oh, yes, autumn gardening really is that good.
“How?” We hear you murmur to yourself from the back door. That’s simple. There are advantages to be had in the autumn, like the drop in temperature, less pain-in-the-butt-insects and being able to put the garden to bed, which is not just a thousand times easier than waking it up in spring but one of our favourite phrases of all time (right up there with yippee ki yay).
Anyway, that’s enough chit chatting for one day. So, without further ado, here is our list of autumnal gardening tasks that will make next year’s garden blow your freakin’ mind. Fact.
Love Can Get A Little Mucky
According to Britney, whether you prefer using compost or manure on your beds is your prerogative (ba-dum-dum-tssh). The important bit is that you mulch, which is a gardening terms for, “cover all your exposed soil with a healthy amount of the stuff and then rake it out to ensure it’s evenly spread.” That’s literally all you need to do. The gentle giant that is winter will do the rest; making the ground freeze and thaw while working your composty-manure thing into the soil on your behalf, along with the earthworms.
We’ve Seed It All Before
If you thought doing the dishes was a chore, then just wait until you start collecting dried seed from all the open, pollinated flowers and veg in your garden. This really is a whole-nother level. There is a point to doing this, though, and that is saving these seeds for sowing next year, or even sowing them in some other part of your garden that you want to spruce up, or maybe you could even test yourself with a little bit of winter-sowing. Doom n’ gloom aside, saving seed is a gardening tradition that stretches back to the Old Testament. Poetically put, the seeds from your favourite plants are treasures that should not be wasted nor forgotten.
Bring Them Birds Back
All those Eurasian bluetits, chaffinches, house sparrows, robins and golden eagles you’ve been watching from the kitchen window have done a tremendous job of keeping you entertained, dancing and prancing and serenading you, while also dealing with your garden pests. And that is exactly why you need to give a little back. Give these birds a reason to hang around your patch next year too. Don’t worry, you don’t need to construct an altar in your shed and then make a sacrificial offering or anything; you just need to clean out your bird feeders so they are ready to be used again. That’s all.
Water Garden Woes
If you’ve got a pond or a natural water garden then you’ve got zilch to worry about. You can just let them face the elements all by themselves. If, however, you’ve got a man-made water garden then you need to step up, be their protector and make sure that your beloved place of calm and tranquility is winterfied. That means turning the pump off, turning the ice-breaker on and covering the entire thing with netting to stop all those falling leaves from ruining all that you love in this world. You may think that was a little over the top but, as far as we are concerned, the only thing worse than leaves clogging up your gorgeous pond is Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.
Trees Need Lovin’ Too
Those trees and shrubs of yours may look like they have slipped into a well-earned coma for the winter, but they are very much still alive and (metaphorically) kicking, which is why you need to make sure they are still well watered; at least until winter makes the ground start to freeze. That said, Donald Trump thinks climate change is a myth made up by Roald Dahl, so we’ll probably have another warmish and relatively dry winter again, which means you’ll need to invest in some waterproof gloves and continue watering your trees-slash-shrubs throughout the winter, especially any newbies that were planted in the last couple of years.
Autumn Aeration Is Awesome
Not only is that a lovely – if not slightly rudimental – bit of alliteration, it is also the truth. Now is the perfect time to call in the professionals and have your lawn aerated before the first major frost settles on your hopes and dreams. For those that don’t know what we are talking about but want the short story, aeration is where you make loads of holes all over your lawn. If you want a little bit more detail – and why wouldn’t you? – then we recommend you read our aptly titled blog, “What the fudge is aeration?” It’s a goodie.
Clever Bit Of Cutting
We mentioned Jack Frost in the point above and we’re going to mention him again in an equally defamatory manner. Why? Because he is going to turn your plants to mush sooner rather than later. It’s just something he does. That is why you need to brave the chill now and get your cuttings. The reason we beg, urge and plead you to do this is a) it’s easier to bring in small cuttings now and b) when it comes to spring, they’ll transplant like a set of lungs in the hands of an expert surgeon.