Autumn in the Garden

One of the best times of year in the North East. The days are still warm, the nights are cooling and there is a bit more moisture than what we’ve had in the last few months. A small mercy for those reliant on tanks, springs and dams for irrigation or even drinking water!!

The soil temperature is still relatively warm, so that newly placed plants still can grow some roots before the winter chill sets in. Just remember that all newly planted plants require water until they are established. Even with a few showers about, the water may not be penetrating deeper down.

You can plant fruit trees now that will shortly go into dormancy in winter, such as your pommes- Pears and Apples, drupes- Stone fruit, Berries and Citrus.  Once you have planted your fruit tree they will benefit from a prune. Take off 1/3 of the growth, making sure that you are cutting to an outward facing bud. Shaping the tree is personal choice. There are many to choose from. Some easier than others, so have a google.

Feed your citrus as they have set their fruit and need the extra nutrients now before everything ripens. A Fruit and Citrus fertiliser will do the trick. Just follow the instructions. Maybe even let mother nature give you a hand watering it in, don the boots and waterproof to sprinkle around the drip line during an autumn shower.

In early autumn also give your trees, especially fruiting and heavily flowering varieties a good feed. This will encourage strong growth and budding when the days eventually begin to lengthen again.

Roses put out a flush of colour in autumn. They respond to a light prune late Summer to early Autumn to encourage budding. Once they have finished their flowering give them a harsher prune, this will get them ready for Spring growth. Make sure that you are again pruning to an outside bud and that you are removing any of the growth that is heading towards the middle of the plant. Creating a vase shape. This encourages air movement and reduces the likelihood of powdery mildew and black spot.

Tube stock is coming out at this stage so you have a great opportunity to get the most variety available. Tube stock tends to suffer less transplant shock when put in the ground, takes you a lot less time to plant and as it is smaller has a better root: shoot ratio so the plant can optimize its growth options.  Be sure to not let your tube stock dry out however before you plant and add some composted material to the hole before planting. A Seaweed tonic also goes a long way to reduce transplant shock.

For some colour in the garden try Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’ Camellias are starting to bud and flower now as well. Aster daisies are coming in also.

Sweet peas seed traditionally go in on St Patricks day. Even if you are a little late, they can still go in early autumn. Other peas and beans can also go in as well as seed of beetroot, lettuce, radish and herbs such as coriander and basil. The latter won’t bolt as quickly with the cooler weather coming on.

Autumn veg: Brussel sprouts, brassicas, lettuce, spinach, leeks, Chinese cabbage.

Get a spot ready for your garlic as well. This is a mid-autumn job. Prepare your bed and source your garlic. There are soft and hard necked varieties. The neck is called a scape. They both have different properties such as storage time and pungency of flavour. These will arrive in the shop soon. Once in they don’t need much care, just a feed inn early spring and be ready to harvest when the tips start yellowing and collapsing.

Bulbs also go in the ground in autumn. The shift in soil temperature is what activates the bulb to grow once the days start to lengthen again. You can choose a single variety or try mass planting, depending on what your space and imagination allows. Keep an eye out for varieties coming in soon.


  • collect fallen leaves and add to your compost, mix it along with some manure and turn regularly to make sure that all levels are damp but not too wet. If your compost gets too wet, cover it up with a layer of pea straw.
  • General clean up, light prune but not too heavy before the frosts.
  • Think about an autumn green manure when you rotate your veggie beds around.  
  • Mulch, but make sure that you leave space around the stem of plants.