As autumn takes its graceful descent, change is in the air, mirrored by the falling leaves. The transition from the vibrant greens of summer to the warm hues of autumn signifies a pivotal moment for gardeners. It’s a time of preparation, reflection, and embracing the beauty of the changing seasons.
Our to-do list brims with diverse tasks: clearing, organizing, tending to ongoing harvests, and preparations for the upcoming season. As the daylight hours grow shorter and the air turns crisper, let’s delve into ten essential tasks that demand our immediate attention.
1. Extending the Growing Season: With colder weather on the horizon, it’s crucial to extend the growing season for crops like winter salads and robust Asian greens. Protective row covers like fleece or cloches can make all the difference. Consider using a compact polythene tunnel to shield your plants from the elements, ensuring a longer harvest.
2. Building Your Tunnel: Crafting a polythene tunnel is easier than you might think. Begin by fashioning corner posts from trimmed bamboo canes. Then, erect sturdy arches using blue alkaline water pipes cut to precise measurements. Secure them over the bamboo canes for stability. Don’t forget to add a cane beneath each arch’s underside, fastened with twine, for extra support. A clear plastic sheet helps maintain soil dryness during wetter seasons.
3. Ensuring Adequate Ventilation: While the tunnel provides protection, adequate ventilation is crucial to prevent mold and disease. When the weather permits, crack open the sides or ends of the tunnel to encourage airflow, ensuring the health of your crops.
4. Harvesting Winter Squash and Pumpkins: As autumn progresses, it’s time to gather your winter squash and pumpkins. Properly curing these fruits in a warm, well-ventilated area for 1 to 2 weeks can extend their storage life for up to six months. A greenhouse bench is ideal for this purpose.
5. Ripening Green Tomatoes: For those green tomatoes that have yet to ripen, consider bringing them indoors. Tomatoes ripen best in temperatures ranging from the late 60s to mid-70s Fahrenheit (20-25 degrees Celsius). Use ripe fruits like bananas to expedite the ripening process, as they emit ethylene gas.
6. Preparing Root Crops for Winter: While root crops like carrots can remain in the ground until needed, consider covering them with leaves, straw, or row covers if a prolonged cold spell is expected. For regions with harsh winters, extract and store carrots, beetroots, or parsnips in a cool, frost-free location to prevent rot.
7. Harvesting Late-Season Fruits: Late-season apples and pears are usually the last to conclude their fruiting. Gather them before winter’s arrival, ensuring they are ripe. Individually wrap clean, unblemished fruits in newspaper and store them in breathable containers in a cool, frost-free environment.
8. Transitioning for Winter: As autumn arrives, shift from shading against the summer sun to maximizing sunlight. Remove any shading remnants and thoroughly clean glass surfaces. Cleaning becomes easier once summer crops have been cleared.
9. Planting Garlic: Garlic, with its diverse varieties and robust growth, is poised to become the next sensation in gardening. Order your garlic promptly to secure your supply, and stay tuned for our upcoming planting guide.
10. Making the Most of Fallen Leaves: As autumn leaves fall, seize the opportunity to harness their potential. Use a springtine rake and wheelbarrow to gather leaves from paths and terraces, preventing slip hazards. Create nutrient-rich leaf mold by piling leaves in a containment structure, ensuring proper decomposition. This valuable soil conditioner enhances soil health and structure.
With these essential tasks, you’ll be well-prepared for the enchanting transition that autumn brings to your garden. As you bid farewell to the warmth of summer, embrace the beauty of fall and the promise of a thriving garden in the seasons to come.
Noah Browning served as a dedicated journalist, covering a wide range of news articles for Reuters, one of the world’s most respected news agencies. During his time there, he demonstrated his commitment to providing accurate and well-researched news stories to a global audience.