You might be thinking at this time of year, as the nights get longer and the days get colder, that your cultivation patch (whether that be a rooftop or an orchard) are going into slumber and to some extent you’d be right but that doesn’t mean to say you can put your slippers and sit down in front of the fire quite yet.
This time of year provides a perfect opportunity to get your garden ready for winter when things really start to slow down.
In our garden at the moment (and thanks to some rather mild Autumn weather) I’ve still got some crops going, but that is only half the story. I spent a good afternoon the other day cutting back perennials, tying up the fruit espaliers and starting to prune back the native hedges.
It’s actually quite cathartic clearing up. It’s like creating a nice blank canvas ready for next year. But not everything you clear up, or tidy away needs to be chucked. Most of everything you remove or lop can be used in other ways. As they say, it’s all good stuff!
Below are 15 ways to get your cultivation space ready for winter.
A helpful list that will get your cultivation space off to a flying start in 2015.
Go make that garden tiger!
- Rake up the leaves. Add them to a bin bag or a composter ready to be tipped onto your beds next yr. Now is the perfect time to start composting, and if you haven’t tried it before the I positively urge you to give it a go.
- Cut back the perennials. Anything that has stopped flowering can be cut back now. Most perennials can take a hearty prune. Aim to take a third of any growth off to encourage more bushy growth next spring.
- Clear away the last of the veggies (unless of course you’re still able to harvest from them), and lightly hoe over the soil.
- Give the lawn one last cut and put it to the back of the shed/garage so you can reach more essential tools easily over winter.
- Plant garlic and onions and you’ll be basking in culinary delights next yr.
- Plant sweet peas now. Either add them to individual containers or to a seed tray and leave under cover for germination to take place. Mine are kept outside in the grow house, all through winter. They just need to be kept frost free,
- Empty your composter into spare beds or raised growing areas to feed the soil ready for next year.
- Lift your dahlias. Unless they are in a very sheltered spot dahlia tubers can really be effected by frost and snow. So lift them, let the last of any greenery die off, trim it away and then lay the tubers in either straw or newspaper. Cover and keep in a cool (frost free) environment I experimented with newspaper last yr and it worked fine.
- If you haven’t been feeding the birds through the summer now is the time to start. Hard frosts prevent the birds from being able to peck for grubs/worms. Plus it’s a real joy to be sat inside, hot cocoa in hand watching the birds on a cold day.
- Before the frost really gets a hold dig over any ground you want to plant up next year. This helps especially if you have clay heavy soil. Leave the overturned ‘chunks’ to the winter and it’ll help breakdown the soil without you needing to hurt your back. I’ve tried this in the past and it really works!
- Provide a shelter for insects. If you’ve got any old bricks, pieces of wood you don’t use and any other garden “odds and bods” just collecting dust down the side of your property because you can never find the time to take them to the tip then bring them all together and turn it into an insect hotel. Doesn’t have to look pretty (unless you want it too), but the lacewings will be very pleased of the cover from harsh winds.
- Start to plant or move trees. I planted my plum, apple and cherry in the month of November but right up to March is planting or moving month. If the tree’s are asleep while you move/plant them then they are ready and raring to go when they do wake up without any issues with root disturbance.
- Add a net to your pond to stop leaves dropping in and stagnating in the water over winter.
- If you haven’t bought one already, get yourself a water butt. It can be filling up now ready for when you’ll need it next yr. Sizes and types are huge, so even people with the smallest of spaces can install one these days. Be sure to check with your local council to see if they are offering any discounts on their products. In the UK Councils usually offer a good incentive to buy a water butt.
- Get planning for next year! In the warmth of indoors, dig out your pad and paper and start making plans for next year. What will you grow where and when, what needs sowing first, new plants you’d like to add, colour schemes. I’m a great one for lists (as I’m not great at drawing) so I tend to do a month by month “To do” list for areas already cultivated. A list for “seeds” and another one detailing what each raised bed will be cultivated with. Go mad, bad and have a good time 🙂
What’s your number one job to do in your cultivation space for Autumn?