Gloves and wellies at the ready! Here’s our top ten jobs to be getting on with in the autumn garden or allotment…
1. Sow autumn leaves
It’s not too late to sow crops such as Chinese mustard, mizuna and American land cress for salad leaves. And they can easily be grown in containers. Find a sunny, sheltered spot (by the kitchen door for easy picking) and sow thinly in our SylvaGrow Multi-Purpose, covering lightly. Snip when they reach 5cm high, and you can cut again once they regrow.
2. Gather seeds
Seeds set around two months after flowering so keep a close eye on those plants you want to collect from. Ensure the plants are healthy and vigorous so you’re picking the best seeds. Many are best sown soon after collection to get an early start next year. Collect on a dry day, and dry until crisp on a warm windowsill. Extract the seed and pop into labelled envelopes. Easy ones to try are poppy, nigella, foxglove, and calendula. Or how about planting tree seeds?
3. Grow garlic
Autumn planted garlic will get a head start on spring-planted bulbs. Choose fertile ground with lots of sun – and remember the bulbs will remain in the ground until June. Break into cloves and slot each one gently into the ground so they’re 2cm below the surface, pointed end up. Keep well weeded – and dream of garlic butter next year!
4. Plant spring bulbs
It’s lovely to plan for early colour next year as the garden starts to slow down. While tulips are best planted in November, you can plant daffs, crocuses, hyacinths, and irises now. Containers are a great way to move splashes of colour around the garden. Dig a hole at least two to three times the size of the bulb with the roots pointing down. We recommend our SylvaGrow Tub & Basket. Firm the compost to avoid air pockets.
5. Overwinter beans
Aquadulce Claudia broad beans can be sown now and tend to establish more quickly as the soil is still warm. Sow in wide, flat-bottomed drills around 5cm deep. They should produce shoots before the harsh weather sets in, but you can also sow in the greenhouse. We recommend using our SylvaGrow Multi-Purpose or SylvaGrow Organic compost to start beans indoors.
6. Lift and divide perennials
Perennials need to be divided every three to five years and late autumn is a good time to start. Lift the plant by loosening the soil with a spade and slice into sections, depending on the size. You can also use two forks back-to-back and jiggle them back and forth to tease the plant apart. Shake off the loose soil and remove any dead leaves or stems. Make sure each section has healthy buds before replanting. Great plants to try including Japanese anemone, asters, heucheras and hemerocallis. You can mulch with our SylvaGrow Farmyard for a perfect finish.
7. Pot up strawberry runners
Your strawberries will have sent out baby plants on long runners over the summer, and September is the time to pot them up. Pop a pot or seed tray, filled with our SylvaGrow with added John Innes, under the baby plant. Once rooted, snip away from the parent and grow on.
8. Take cuttings
It’s time to take semi-ripe cuttings from tender perennials such as gazanias, marguerites, verbena, fuchsias, penstemons and salvias. The cuttings are called semi-ripe because they have a hardening base and a soft tip. Use a clean knife or secateurs and clip a heathy stem, which has at least three leaves and preferably no flowers. Take off the lower leaves and insert into a pot of SylvaGrow Multi-Purpose. You can put three of four cuttings into a pot. Water gently and place inside a clear plastic bag, somewhere frost free. Repot once you see growth and keep in a sheltered spot until you can plant outside after the frosts.
9. Use up old compost
Don’t throw away spent compost. As long as the previous plant was free from disease, you can reuse it for wildflower beds as these plants prefer low fertility. Compost can also be reused as a weed-supressing mulch and to lock in moisture. Recycle our SylvaGrow plastic compost bags as a greenhouse pot store or turn them inside out to make compost or leaf mould sacks, remembering to puncture plenty of air holes. The interiors are like black bags, which absorb the sun and speed up decomposition.
10. Get mulching
September is a perfect time to layer soil with mulch to lock in warmth and nutrients, and reduce weeds. Our SylvaGrow Farmyard – which won ‘Best New Product Award‘ at the 2021 Garden Press Event – does the job nicely. It’s entirely plant-derived, and a by-product of a renewable energy process. It contains the same level of nutrients as a traditional farmyard manure without the animal ingredients – and it’s Soil Association approved.