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How best to prepare your garden for the colder months Posted On 02 October 2019

 

 

Put away garden furniture

Your outside furniture will have done you proud throughout the summer months, but now you need to ensure it doesn’t become needlessly wet, rusty, and perhaps even frozen in parts. Pack away any chairs and tables, as well as the barbeque if it’s a movable one, to prevent them from becoming victims to the elements throughout the winter season. A dedicated storage space or a garage would be ideal places to store them.

The final cut of the grass

It’s advised that any good gardener should keep their lawn generally well-maintained throughout the winter months, keeping it tidy and well-looked after. Late October or early November is generally the ideal time to give your lawn its final trim before winter hits. However, if you live in a particularly mild area you maybe able to get away with cutting your grass in December.

Rotting plants

Rotting and dying plants and other vegetation in your garden don’t only look untidy, they can also spread disease to other, healthier, plants in the surrounding area. Pests and fungi are also likely with old plants and could incur further problems for your garden. Insects feeding on your crops throughout the summer may lay eggs on the stalks and leaves, so removing any finished plants prevents pests from getting a head start come springtime. It’s also useful to note that burying old plants in your garden adds organic matter to your soil, which improves soil tilth and overall health.

Regenerate your compost

A rich heap of compost can go a long way, and can be used to top up garden beds, amend deficient soils, and fertilize lawns. If you’re making way for another batch of compost and cleaning out the previous load, it’s likely to be insulated against winter’s chill, meaning microbes fester for longer into the winter. To prevent the microbes from festering further, compile your autumn compost heap with plenty of autumn leaves, straw or sawdust, layered with kitchen scraps and other active, green matter.

Prepare the soil

Autumn is a great time to add in new additions to the soil, such as manure, compost, kelp and rock phosphate. It’s often best to wait until your soil dries out before deciding to work it and add in extra nutrients: doing so in autumn means you won’t need to do as much in spring. Once you’ve added your additions, cover the bed of soil with sheets of plastic or other coverings to help prevent winter rains from washing the nutrients below the active root zone. The soil should be ready to be uncovered in dry spring, ready to work its magic.

Protect vulnerable plants from frost

You can protect your low-growing plants from wet weather by covering them with a sheet of glass or a cloche, and surrounding them with a slightly elevated layer of gravel or grit, to ensure swift drainage of any potential rainwater. Some outdoor containers are frost-proof, and it’s advised you use these to prevent them cracking.

Plant cover crops

Late summer or early autumn is an ideal time of the year to sow crops like rye, vetch and clover because, as well as adding nutrients, such crops as these help prevent soil erosion, break up compacted areas, and increase levels of organic matter in garden beds. Also, one way to increase the levels of available nitrogen for garden vegetables is to plant legumes in your garden, such as clover or field peas. Although some cover crops are hardier than others, it tends to be a general rule of thumb to plant cover crops around one month before your first killing-frost.

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