With days shortening and the weather getting colder, gardens are moving into their dormant phase. There are still jobs to be done, though!
If you would like a magnificent display of tulips next spring, now is the time to plant them. Whether you are planting in pots or beds, make sure to plant them deep – they should have at least twice their depth of compost or soil over them.
Some plants need to be brought indoors to protect them from frosts, but those that are semi-hardy can be left outside if protected. Wrap them in fleece or lay a thick mulch of straw.
Plants kept indoors need to be well-watered – they will tend to dry out quickly in our centrally-heated houses.
Fruit and vegetables
Certain types of fruit and veg can be grown in the coming months, but they will need protection from the weather too. Cloches will protect many crops but remember to provide essential ventilation by leaving their ends open. Crops like onions and garlic can be planted now, if they are protected with fleece. Brussels sprouts should be supported with canes.
Tomato and cucumber plants will have finished producing, so add their foliage to the compost heap.
If you add fresh manure to your vegetable beds now it will rot down over winter and produce rich soil for next year.
Leaf mould is an excellent soil conditioner so collect fallen leaves in bin bags to decompose – pierce some air holes in the bags to avoid ending up with an unpleasant sludge!
Once the leaves have fallen and you can see the underlying forms of deciduous trees, it is a good time to prune them back.
Use bricks to raise pots off the ground to prevent waterlogging. If you have a greenhouse give it a good clean with disinfectant.
Use any dry spells to paint sheds and fences. The same applies to decking (unless it’s from Millboard, which needs no treatment to keep it in shape).
The birds will appreciate any food you put out for them, but be sure to clean the feeders regularly to avoid spreading diseases. It’s a good idea to have two sets of feeders that you can put out and clean alternately.
COVID-19 restrictions mean few public bonfire displays are still on, so there are likely to be more in private gardens. If you are thinking of having a bonfire, please be extra careful this year and follow advice from your local fire brigade. Use dry wood to minimise smoke and ensure there are no hedgehogs or other animals using your bonfire as a refuge before you light it.