Winter in the garden is just as busy as other seasons. There’s always something to do to keep plants healthy and weeds under control. For us, it's mainly about pruning and planting right now - and weeding, always weeding.
This month we’re weeding then gathering any fallen leaves and using them as mulch in the garden. Also sowing cover crops in bare areas for all the great reasons mentioned in this blog post.
On fruit trees we're pruning dead, damaged, diseased branches. Then pruning to have space between branches for air and pollination, to let the sun in for the fruit to ripen and keep the branches reachable for picking. These all help reduce pests and disease. We’re after strong healthy branches with lots of fruit spurs. Check out Kath Irvine’s helpful pruning videos.
We’ve started pruning roses. Lopping off branches that cross and rub as these allow disease to enter the plant through the damaged area. Taking out some of the older branches to encourage new growth and pruning to an outward facing bud on healthy branches.
After pruning, where there have been pest problems, we’re thoroughly spraying the tree with copper to deal with any overwintering pests. Otherwise we’re spraying the neem oil to deter those nasties.
Grapes have also been getting pruned, trained and sprayed.
We’re planting shrubs and trees. Whether it’s natives for shelter and food for wildlife, or fruit trees and shrubs for homegrown goodies. Now’s the time to get them in.
This is the best time to plant strawberries. Remember they will need protection from birds.
With more rain and less heat, but enough to keep the garden happy, autumn is a great time to plant, sow seeds , take cuttings or split perennials.
If you have a wood burner or a firepit, you could plant trees to coppice and supplement your delivered firewood.
Otherwise plant trees and shrubs for shelter, privacy, to bring wildlife into your garden.
If you’re after spring flowering bulbs, get them in now. We’re talking anemones, bluebells daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, snowdrops.
Sow seeds for winter flowers, such as calendula, pansies, wallflowers, cornflowers. Primulas, polyanthus, cineraria will flower in shade if you have a spot for them.
Sow direct until May: cosmos, cornflower, nigella, poppies, sunflowers and sweetpeas. For sweetpeas, chill seed first to give germination a head start. Once growing, pinch heads off to encourage strong side shoots.
For fresh winter veges sow broccoli, broad beans, cabbage, cauliflower, peas. Or give microgreens a go if you’re short of space and not so patient.
Propagate woody cuttings like berries, grapes, hydrangeas, currants and roses. See Grow your own free plants
For free plants, divide your perennials such as grasses, irises, sorrel, day lilies, hellebores, hostas, heucheras, achillea. Get more bang for your buck and a better show by grouping them.
Cover bare areas
Finally, if you have any bare areas, sow green mulch such as Kings Green Mulch mix. This helps reduce weeds, then you chop it down before it seeds and use it for mulch. Win-win.
Autumn is the best time to take plant cuttings and grow some more
This works for many plants you’re likely to have, eg fuchsias, hebes, hydrangeas, lavender, rosemary, succulents.
My method is a bit of a shortcut as I put cuttings straight in the ground and leave it to mother nature.
Here's what I do: