The tide has turned and how very quickly, Autumn rushed in, the brutal heat of summer bringing the early surrender from an exhausted landscape. The trees tell of a desire to shed their leaves and rest. All across the garden there is a sense of shutdown. The harvest has been mixed, the runner beans cropping strongly but over quite a short season, the tomatoes outdoors have been amazing but are being messed up by the arrival of the wet, which is making fruit split. The cabbage, cauli and sproutings have also been tested as word of their availability passed to caterpillars, pigeons and aphids. I suspect these pests took in turns to hold up the net, for even when covered they were ripped and gnawed.
But, we’re on to the next bit and we can be clearing away and clearing the way for over wintering crops. Salvage the last of your tomatoes to stand on a window sill to ripen and gather in leftover marrows, squashes and courgettes (cool and frost free they will store for some weeks).In the retrieved space Peas, Broad beans, Onions and Garlic can be set out and there are still some late greens and spinach to be found. Of course, if you have some shelter then you will still get away with a bit of sowing and certainly lettuce and salad leaves are worth a go.
We need to be on frost watch now, so consider all tender subjects that you might wish to preserve. Frost is callous and treacherous, coming from nowhere and wreaking havoc. Geraniums and Begonias need shifting and may even be potted to continue showing off on the kitchen shelf, in fact many subjects can be transferred to give an extended show. As space is freed up bulbs and autumn and winter plants can be introduced, with pansies, violas, sweet William, forget me nots and many others being available in quantity. Take time to stop by a stand of bulbs and soak it up, then treat yourself to something. I just marvel at natures pallet and the carnival that heralds spring as the bulbs pop up.
And finally get that compost heap topped up and if you haven’t got one, make one. It is hugely rewarding. Nature rips through the piled debris and turns into compost like nothing that you ever buy. Don’t make the job too sophisticated or complicated or you put yourself off…………just pile it all on.