Harvesting – Throughout September and October the apples and pears will need harvesting. You will know they are ready when the weather turns blustery resulting in a windfall of fruit on the floor. None of these will store well so use them to make chutneys and wine or leave a bucket at your gateway for passersby. Its good to share the harvest with the birds as well – blackbirds love apples and if you live near open countryside you will be visited by flocks of fieldfares too. Its always best to rake the fallen fruit up. This not only prevents you standing on a wasp but they also make a mushy mess of your lawn so pop the softer fruits onto your compost heap. Fruit on the tree is ripe and ready to be picked when a small twist and it comes away gently into your hand. Store the very best unblemished fruit by wrapping each fruit in newspaper and laying them on a tray somewhere out of the way – pears like it to be cool and dry, apples prefer a slightly warmer and moist atmosphere.
Other fruits for harvesting and storing now are pumpkins and marrows. Let them cure a little in the sun if possible then pop them somewhere cool and airy. Stuffed down the legs of pantihose and hanging from the shed rafters is a good but unusual method of storing them!
Hedges – give them a final trim before the cold weather sets in. Remember to angle the cut so that any snow falls away rather than weighs down the branches. Good crisp outlines and shapes can look amazing following a hard frost.
Ponds – as the trees start to lose their leaves and the wind blows across the garden it is difficult preventing the leaves from falling into your fishpond. Once there they will sink into a sludge on the bottom. As they decompose they give off gases which are poisonous to fish and other aquatics. To prevent this happening it is a good idea to net your pond during the autumn months. This can be a simple square net held down by stones or pegs which will catch the majority of the leaves. Or for rather more money bespoke nets can be purchased that fit the contours of your pond. Whichever you choose it will be a bonus for your fish!
Lawns – keep mowing if you can on sunny days, perhaps with a slightly longer cut. Now is the time to sow grass seed onto the bare patches or maybe even re-turf whilst we still have relatively mild temperatures and lots of rain.
Thinking ahead – time now to start planting for spring. There are bulbs for all parts of your garden, underneath shrubs and trees, scattered through grass, in a sunny border or maybe a planter by the front door. Try some Eranthis for the shade – there are many different colours available from a zingy lemon to a deeper bronze. Crocus and Bluebells love dappled shade and Tulips, Scillas and Grape Hyacinths all love a sunny spot. If you have a greenhouse or even just a sunny window-sill sweet peas can be started. Soak the seeds overnight then pop into a bit of compost. Poppies can be sown now too, just scatter the seed where you want the flowers to grow next Spring. For the vegetable garden broad beans can be sown now, directly into the soil for an overwinter crop that will be ready early next spring.
Lastly, don’t tidy up your garden too much. Leave some piles of leaves or even better a “wild corner” with perhaps some raggedy grass and a nettle or two. If you cut down some untidy looking flower stems and stalks, tie them into a bundle with a bit of string and pop them under a shrub or behind the trellis especially if they are hollow – they make great overwintering nests for countless little creatures. If you really need to have a bonfire, stack everything to one side and then move it to the final position just before you light it. This way no hedgehog will be inadvertently burnt.
A special thanks to the Lady Gardener who has put these top tips together.