Jobs to do in the garden this week.

  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast. Cover shrubs that are likely to be damaged by frost with garden fleece, sacking or an old light blanket.
  • Harvest all carrots to prevent carrot fly grubs developing.
  • Clear tomato plants from the greenhouse. If the plants don't look disease affected put them on the compost heap, else burn or bin them. Pick off any remaining green tomatoes that are on the plants, take them indoors and put them in bowl with a banana and place in cupboard or draw to ripen.
  • Cut lawns and trim edges for the last time of the growing season. Brush the lawnmower down after the final mowing, removing any grass.
  • Double dig borders and vegetable plots, to encourage deep root growth next season. Don't worry about breaking up any large lumps of soil, the winter frost and rain should break them down.
  • Move any planted up pots and containers closer to the house so you can enjoy the colours and textures of the plants through your windows.
  • Lift cannas and lay them in trays of used compost, keeping them damp and away from frost. How to store other tender plants over winter.
  • Clear shed and greenhouse gutters and put chicken wire over the top of them to stop them getting clogged with leaves.
  • On a dry still day rake up fallen leaves, don't put them on the compost heap, as leaves break down in a cold process, whereas a traditional compost heap breaks organic matter down in a warm/hot process. Put them into a leaf composter, or make leaf mould. How to make leaf mould.
  • If you have any autumn fruiting raspberries, after harvesting the fruit, prune out, down to the ground any canes that have carried any fruit this year also any canes that are diseased, damaged or broken and tie in any new shoots.
  • Lift, divide and replant rhubarb crowns that haven't been split in the last 4-5 years
  • Sweet peas sown in the autumn will flower earlier next year, they will also produce stockier plants
  • Grow some herbs on the kitchen windowsill. Sow coriander, basil and parsley into 10cm (4in) pots filled with a mix of general purpose compost. Once the plants have matured, use by removing a few stems as required.
  • Empty hanging baskets that are past their best and replant with winter flowering pansies, primulas, cyclamen and variagated ivy, to create a winter show of flowers. Try and keep hanging basket chains as short as possible in the winter to prevent the basket being blown about too much.
  • Plant or move roses. They like plenty of sun and a clay soil. Leave 60cm (24in) between plants to allow air circulation, which will reduce the chance of infection.
  • Replace summer bedding in borders with winter flowering pansies, polyanthus, wallflowers, myosotis, tulips and daffodils bulbs.
  • Order bare rooted roses. Ordering now and planting in the next few weeks will allow them to start to get established before the winter frosts, but will mean that you don't have to keep watering them through the summer.
  • Plant apple and pear trees. Check and adjust any stakes on young trees and remove stakes on any trees that have been planted more than 3 years.
  • In the veg patch: transplant out spring cabbage, thin swede seedlings to 30cm (12in) apart and cover winter lettuce with cloches, obviously this means that they will need to be watered from time to time.
  • Protect half-hardy perennials from frost with straw, newspaper or netting.
  • During autumn and winter, indoor plants will require less feeding and watering. However as the temperature drops outside, the central heating goes on and the temperature in the house tends to go up, so whilst it's a good idea to keep your pot plants on the dry side and not water them too often, you should check a couple of times a week to ensure they haven't totally dried out. Oh and if you have a water spray bottle, hold the plant over the sink or bath and give the foliage a quick little squirt (don't do this to hairy leaved plants like african violets).
  • Frosts are likely, bring house plants indoors, move tender plants under cover.
  • Harvest pumpkin and squash before the first frost. Leave them to dry in the shed or greenhouse for a couple of days, until the skins toughen up and they sound hollow. Then store somewhere cool and dry.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lift marrows, pumpkins and squashes off the ground with straw or upturned plastic flower pots, in order to helo 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.

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