Jobs to do in the garden this week.
- Apply grease bands to the trunks of apple, pear, cherry and plum trees to stop wingless moths climbing into the trees to lay their eggs. Female codling moths fly, so grease bands are ineffective against them, hang pheromone traps in the trees in the spring to trap the male moths.
- Put cloches over late autumn lettuce seedlings.
- Once herbaceous perennials have finished flowering and die back, remove and clean plant supports.
- Apply manure and dig over heavy soil in the autumn. Don't worry about breaking down large lumps of soil as the winter frost should break these down.
- Replant bulbs that were lifted in the spring. Dispose of soft or shrivelled bulbs.
- Reduce the frequency of grass cutting and increase the height of the cut.
- Hydrangea, poppy and nigela have beautiful seed heads, these should be cut and hung upside down in a shed or garage to dry, for use in dried flower arrangements.
- Cover ponds with netting to prevent leaves dropping or blowing into the water. Remove dead leaves from waterlilies and cut back dying marginals.
- Prune blackcurrants, cutting stems that have fruited down to strong new shoots. Reduce number of stems in the centre of the bush.
- Take hardwood cuttings of shrubs.
- Now is a good time to move herbaceous plants (like hosta) as they aren't growing at the moment. Add organic material to the planting hole.
- Keep picking dahlia flowers, don't dig up the tuber until we get the first frost and the leaves turn black. Then you can lift the tubers and store them over winter.
- After flowering, dead-head gladioli.
- Now is an ideal time to sow grass seed. Dig over the soil, removing all large stones and weeds, rake it level, sow seed lightly and evenly. Keep off the seedlings until they have reached 10cm when it can be mown.
- Airate, scarify and top dress lawns, to remove moss, dead grass and encourage healthy grass next season. Now is an ideal time to sow or lay a new lawn, while the soil is still warm. Repair worn patches in the lawn with an equal mix of grass seed and compost. Cover with light netting or twigs to keep of animals and remind you where you've sown. When weeding the grass out of my path, I've often transplanted the little clumps to bare patches in the lawn. Top dressing is the application of an autumn feed, which will encourage a strong root growth, whereas a spring lawn feed is high in nitrogen and promoted leaf growth.
- Plant shrubs and trees whilst the soil is still warm but plants are less likely to be dried out by the sun.
- Continue to water and dead-head hanging baskets, pots and planters, but reduce feeding.
- Prune shrubs cutting out dead, diseased, dying or crossing branches.
- Clip hedges, including box, yew, laurel and beech. Note. If your trees or shrubs carry berries, like verbena, holly or firethorn, leave the pruning of these until the spring, so garden birds have a food source over the winter.
- Cut down any wild flower patches or rough grass areas using a rotary mower set on its highest setting for the first cut, lowering the blades for subsequent cuts. Remove the clippings and put them on the compost heap, wild flowers typically like poor soil, leaving the clippings will enrich the soil and thus make it harder for the wild flowers to compete with grasses.
- Plant up hyacinths for an indoor winter flower display. If you want flowers for Christmas buy and plant up prepared bulbs.
- Check the readiness of fruit and vegetables. Apples and pears should be gently lifted with the hand, if the stalk remains on the fruit but parts easily from the tree, it is ready to be picked.
- Tidy and cut back perennials.
- Sweet corn should be ripe enough to harvest. Pick when they are a pale creamy colour. However corn on the cob deteriorates quickly, so it should be used as soon as possible after picking.
- Gather seeds of alliums, poppies, aquilegias and salvias. Label and lay out to dry before storing.
- Take cuttings of tender perennials and shrubs. Including salvias, penstemon, lavender and rosemary.
- Autumn or late winter are the best time to lay a new lawn, as it's damper and cooler, allowing the turf to bed in without you having to worry too much about regular watering. See here: laying a new lawn for further information.
Spring flowering bulbs should be available in your local garden centre. Plan where you are going to plant them before you go and buy accordingly, it's great fun filling up those brown bags with bulbs, but can be expensive.
Bulbs are lifted by commercial growers in late summer/early autumn. The bulbs are full of moisture and sugars, but the longer they are out of the ground the more they will start to dehydrate and use stored sugars, smaller bulbs are especially vulnerable so get them into pots or in the ground as soon as possible after puchasing.
If you have a small garden, or are planting bulbs in pots, think about using smaller varieties of bulbs. Miniature daffodils ('Tete-a-tete' or 'Topolino' ), dwarf tulips and crocuses.
Plant bulbs of one variety together for effect. If the soil in your garden is wet and sticky in winter/spring, plant the bulbs in pots and containers, otherwise they'll tend to sit and rot. Plant bulbs 2 to 3 times deeper than their size. If you are growing in large containers, plant the bulbs in layers. Put larger bulbs like tulip and daffodil in first.
- Wild flowers only need to be cut down once a year. Wait until they have finished flowering and the seed heads have ripened, adjust the lawnmower wheels onto their highest setting, remove the grass collection box and run the mover over them, or if you fancy a lot of exercise, try a scythe. Leave the cuttings on the ground for a few days to allow any seed heads to dry and for the seeds to fall. Collect up the remaining stems and put them in the compost heap.
- Azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias set their buds now. If they are being grown in pots or containers, make sure they get plenty of water using rainwater at least once a week.
- Lift marrows, pumpkins and squashes off the ground with straw or upturned plastic flower pots, in order to help them ripen in the last of the sun, keep them from sitting on damp soil and reduce slug damage.
- If your tomato plants have been affected by blight, clear the plants and burn them, adding them to the compost heap will not kill the spores.
- Continue to collect and store seeds from plants, for sowing next year. Store any collected seed in paper envelopes or bags, then put them in an air-tight container.
- Collect and dispose of wind-fall fruit. Leaving them on the ground encourages pests and can damage your lawn.