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Growing - Notes for the Autumn Garden

Autumn marks the gradual change from summer to winter and is probably the season with the biggest range in weather conditions. Septembers and even Octobers in Britain can often still be summery, recently even recording higher temperatures than August. Equally, Novembers can be very cold, and the UK sometimes even experiences widespread snow fall (like in 2010). In general, it is usually quite wet and windy in autumn though it is so variable that one year after another, autumns can seem like different seasons.

Flower Garden


Divide herbaceous perennials, collect and sow seeds from perennials and hardy annuals. net ponds before leaf fall.

Use rain or grey water, if possible, for watering new plants and start to reduce the watering of houseplants.

Plant spring flowering bulbs and clean out cold frames and greenhouses.


Although we had some warmer days over September, the autumn is now definitely here for real, and it feels colder. It's a beautiful time of year, with the trees changing colour. Sometimes it may seem pointless raking, when the wind blows even more leaves onto the lawn, but just think of all the lovely leafmould you can make! It's also time to start preparing for early frosts.

Cut back perennials that have died down and divide those that are becoming congested. Move tender plants back to protection. Prune climbing roses and finish collecting seeds.

Trim hedges and give the lawn its last cut'


Leaves are falling rapidly, and wind and rain are on the increase. Tender plants will need protecting from frost, gales and freezing rains. Continue moving plants into protection, but if you can't, it is worth wrapping plants or pots.

Clear up fallen leaves from lawns and ponds particulartly, but also from beds. Raise containers on to feet, plant tulip bulbs for a spring display and plant out winter bedding.

Fruit and Vegetable Garden


The bulk of the harvest comes home now and as crops come out the plot begins to empty

It’s worth sowing some winter hardy spring onions. You can sow lettuce like arctic king which will be ready in early spring as well. autumn sets, plant out spring cabbages to slowly develop for next year.

Early September is the time to sow green manure as land becomes vacant. following potatoes on with mustard can be useful for curbing eelworm.

Keep feeding your tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers..

Don’t give up on the hoe, it’s far better to how weeds away when you can hardly see them. Keep an eye on your brassicas for butterfly eggs and caterpillars.

September and October are the right time to work on your compost. Usually the cool compost bins will have partially decomposed material at the top and rotted compost at the base.

Take the partially rotted off and then take out the rotted compost to spread on the ground or pile ready to add to the base of trenches when digging over to encourage the worms to deepen your top soil.

Tidy up the summer fruiting raspberries. Cut off the canes that have fruited and tie in the new shoots that will bear next year’s fruit.

The summer fruiting strawberries can be attended to now as well. Cut off the foliage about 1″ from the ground, clearing and weeding as you go. Any runners can be planted up to replace 3 year old plants.

The maincrop potatoes may be ready now.

The runner beans and French beans will be continuing to produce until frost strikes. The last of the peas should be coming in as well. Compost the foliage of the peas and beans but leave the roots in the ground as the nodules on them contain nitrogen.

From the greenhouse you should be picking aubergines, chilli and sweet peppers as well as cucumbers and tomatoes.

Other crops you could be harvesting now include leeks, marrows, onions, pumpkins, radishes, spring onions, spinach, sweetcorn, turnips, beetroot, cabbage, carrots, cauliflowers, courgettes, globe artichokes, kale, kohl rabi and lettuce


There’s little to sow and plant but still a fair amount to harvest and store away to eat through winter.

Over-wintering broad beans can go in from the middle of the month and October is the last chance for planting out japanese onion sets You can plant out garlic in October or next month

October and November are good months for serious digging.

Sow a green manure like field beans that will hold the nutrients in the soil over winter until spring when you dig them in.

This is a good month to prune currants and gooseberries and raspberries and blackberries need cuttin back and tying in.Sow a hardy lettuce like arctic king and grow in your greenhouse border to give you a salad whatever the weather.

Any remaining maincrop potatoes should be ready. When the haulm (leaves) start dying back cut it off and leave the potatoes for a couple of weeks.

The last of the beans should be picked now, compost the foliage but leave the roots with their nitrogen full nodules in the soil.

Maincrop carrots should be dug up to be stored in sand or peat through the winter but leave the parsnips in the ground as they’ll be sweeter after a frost.

Drumhead cabbages and scorzonera that are ready should be harvested.


November is the month when the hard frosts and heavy rain usually arrive

Hardy peas like meteor can also go in now.

It’s also the time to lime as required but don’t add lime and manure at the same time.

If you’ve a good supply of leaves, which should be falling fast now, make leafmould. Start by building a leaf mould cage or store in black plastic bags, but be aware that they need to be kept moist.

Prune apples and pears and they’ll benefit from some compost around the base as a mulch.

As with October, November is a good month to attend to pruning the raspberries, blackberries and hybrid berries as well as being the ideal time to plant bare rooted canes.

Continue successional sowing of winter salad crops.

Leeks should be ready now. Harvest every other one in a row leaving the rest to grow on. Brussels sprouts should be starting as well. Pick from the bottom of the plant upwards. Along with sprouts you can harvest kale and take up the winter cabbages and cauliflowers.

Maincrop carrots can be lifted to store safe from pests in damp sand or peat in store.

You could still be harvesting celery and celeriac, kale and kohl rabi as well as turnips, swedes and spinach.

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