Autumn is the season of Halloween, where the colours red, yellow, brown and orange take the forefront. It’s also when hundreds of crunchy leaves are strewn across the ground, ready for us to stomp on.
Nobody really dislikes Autumn. It’s neither too hot nor too cold, and you don’t have to worry about pollen allergies, either. What’s more, this season blesses us with a variety of pumpkin-flavoured drinks and treats.
But did you know that Autumn is also a pretty productive gardening season? You’d think that with the blooming season gone and the winter colds approaching, the gardening tools should be put away.
Contrary to popular belief, with autumn comes great gardening opportunities that you don’t want to miss.
Benefits of Planting in Autumn
Autumn sounds like a weird time for gardening. After all, it’s known as the season of falling leaves and, right after that, comes winter. But, there are quite a few reasons why so many people like gardening during this season, including:
- Plants in autumn require less water and fertilizer compared to other seasons
- Preparing your garden for the next seasons beforehand will save your costs throughout the year and give better yields
- Weed seeds don’t germinate in this season, so your other plants can grow in peace
- The price of plants is actually a lot lower
What Can You Plant in Autumn?
Shrubs and trees, in particular, thrive when planted in Autumn. This is because they get all the moisture they need, with a significant dormant period that is required.
Go for planting fruit trees like apple, plum, pears and cherries. However, make sure these are young when you plant them.
It’s also a good time for veggies like lettuce, radish, garlic, carrot, cauliflower and pumpkin. In fact, a lot of people believe that turnips and broccoli actually taste better when they’re harvested after winter.
Just make sure that you stake the plants that need it so that their roots don’t get up-heaved from heavy winds or snow.
The Season to Clean Up Your Garden
This is the time of the year that you should be cleaning the yard. You need to start raking away all the leaves and getting rid of all the weeds and leftover vegetables.
Take out all the old bulbs and tubers and make sure there’s no plant debris in sight. Cleaning your garden up during autumn will lower the chances of pest attacks and diseases and reduce weed seeds in the winter as well.
You can even purchase a leaf blower to help make light work of all these kinds of garden chores.
Don’t Forget to Sanitise Gardening Tools
By the time autumn comes around, there’s probably a lot of pathogens and germs sticking to all your tools. This is something many gardeners don’t realise.
So, make sure you clean all your tools – from your lawnmowers and cages to your hand tools and containers during the fall. Simply using a 5% bleach and water solution will work wonders to make your next batch of plants much healthier.
Now is the Time to Compost
Try to compost as much as possible, and use it on your plants. If you already make compost, autumn is when you should clean up everything and start a new batch.
You can buy bags of compost in bulk from nurseries, garden suppliers and landscaping companies. But you can also make your own, using anything organic lying around.
This could be the leaves you’ve already raked, lawn clippings and even scraps from your kitchen.
Using a layer of this compost on the base of your most sensitive plants will really make a difference. Mixing in compost with the soil will make your garden more fertile and prevent the growth of weeds.
- Turn your compost every 30 days to make sure it’s heated and aerated
- Add lime to the compost to keep it at the right pH for your soil.
- Water the compost whenever it feels too dry
- Make sure the store-bought compost you add to your soil hasn’t been sitting in the sun for too long
Make Proper Arrangements for Space and Water
For your plants to survive throughout the winter, it’s very important that they have enough space to grow. Plan beforehand and allot each plant a separate space based on their requirements. Make sure none of them are crowded together.
You should also ensure that your plants get enough water, especially during the hotter months of August and September. This Autumn, you could consider installing an irrigation system like a drip set up, soaker hoses or sprinklers.
If your plants are still in their nursery containers, watering with a hose is the best option.
Be Smart about the Plants You Buy
Before you start planting away, make sure you’re reading the labels. You need to know everything about your plants, starting from how big they’ll grow to how much sun they will need. It’s also wise to get smaller plants, as they are more likely to survive the winter.
Prepare Your Garden
Autumn is when you should check your garden and adjust it for the next season. So, it’s a good idea to get your soil tested professionally. Send in a minimum of 10 x 6″ soil samples, making sure they’re from different parts of your garden.
Based on the results, you should start improving and conditioning your soil. Try to maintain a soil pH between 6 to 7 if you’re planning on keeping a vegetable garden. Till your soil and loosen it up as much as possible for the next season.
And if you have a garden hose lying around, drain it out and put it away before winter. If you don’t, your hose might freeze and crack if it gets too cold outside.
Install a Cold Frame and Raise the Beds
To deal with the upcoming winter, it’s wise to install a cold frame around your crops. This is basically like a greenhouse that will keep your plants at the required temperature. However, your frame should be big enough for all your plants so they can grow to their height.
As winter approaches, the weather also gets wetter, and drainage becomes an issue. So, it’s a good idea to raise your plant beds to at least 8 inches. This will prevent rotting and help the water drain away.
Autumn gardening is not everybody’s cup of tea. But if you can get into the habit, you’ll see unbelievable benefits. So, do your research and grab your gardening tools, because you don’t want this productive time to go to waste.