It’s a busy time in the garden, clearing away and getting ready for the winter. There are many sources of gardening advice online and in books. Remember when searching to put Scotland or UK in the search line. YouTube has videos to demonstrate pruning if you are unsure. Happy Gardening!
Buy or make one or several compost bins for all the garden waste that you are clearing at this time of year. This is the one action that will maintain or improve the health of your soil for the future.
Trees and Shrubs
Autumn is the time to move trees and shrubs and to plant new ones grown in containers. Bare root planting waits until later in the year. It is a great time to take hardwood cuttings of roses and other woody shrubs. To do this you can select a shoot as thick as a pencil about 25 to 30cm long, remove the tip with secateurs or a knife and keep just three pairs of leaves, cut the bottom just under where a leaf has joined the stem. Several of these can be pushed into a tall pot of compost at least halfway in. You can also cut an old compost bag into a flat sheet of plastic, black side up. Place on a patch of bare soil in your garden weighed down with stones round the edges. Make slits with a sharp knife, push your cuttings into the ground through the slits for at least half their length. The plastic sheet will stop competition from weeds. The cuttings which grow will be ready to move this time next year, don’t forget to water in dry periods. Plants for free!
Plant new container grown climbers and prune climbing roses, you can take cuttings from climbers too.
Autumn is a great time to plant new perennials, and also to cut down and divide your existing plants if you want more to plant, swap or give away to gardening friends and new gardeners. It is also a great time to collect and dry seed to plant or swap. Please remember to keep seed dry and not store in plastic bags. Thoroughly dry by hanging up in paper bags and when the seed rattles it can be put into dinner money envelopes, labelled and stored.
Buy bulbs and plant as soon as you can. You can plant them in your borders, in turf, in pots and in large containers. The exception is tulips which are planted as late in autumn as you can, to prevent a tulip disease called fireblight. Bulbs of all types grow very well in our beautiful area. Try something different this year.
Bedding and containers
Remove summer bedding and add to your compost heap as it fades or is hit by the first frosts. You can also save seeds from these plants. Tender perennial bedding such as geraniums, diascias, fuchsias and others can be cut back and packed into boxes of compost if you have a greenhouse, conservatory, porch or summerhouse where you can store them away from any frost. Recycled polystyrene fish boxes are good for this as they retain heat. Dahlia tubers can be stored in their containers if the compost is kept dry until spring. They don’t need light until spring so a shed or garage will do.
Vegetables and Herbs
Harvest remaining produce in autumn, take notes to remind you of what has cropped well before you buy seed for next year. Parsnips and leeks are better left in the ground until you need them. Lift maincrop potatoes by the end of September or early October. Lift any remaining onions and dry under cover. Vegetables seed can be saved too.
Winter salad crops can be grown in greenhouses and polytunnels, such as lettuce, mizuna, rocket, winter purslane and endive. Garlic can be planted now, it needs a period of cold in order to produce cloves in the bulb.
Carry on harvesting fruit as it ripens. If you are storing apples, only store fruit without any blemishes. If storing in boxes wrap each apple in old newspaper and check for for regularly. Pears are best left unwrapped.
Autumn fruiting raspberries will be starting to crop. Summer fruiting raspberries can be pruned now, removing fruits canes and leaving four or five unfruited canes to each plant for next year. You can plant out runners of strawberry plants now. If you know someone who has them, they are likely to have a surplus to give away so do ask.
by Jean Wilkinson
Facebook: Kyle of Sutherland Growing Group