After an unpredictable summer, it’s a pleasure to get
out in the garden on a warm but not hot day, and to have Mother Nature
providing the watering system. The work and planning you do now will provide
the groundwork for the coming year.
Perennial plants are the gardener’s friend as they
provide lovely displays for years on end with little work required to keep them
at their best. There are two kinds, those that lose their leaves every year and
those that are evergreen.
The main thing they have in common is that they keep
multiplying and getting bigger. They need attention at this time of the year
and by dividing them you get more plants for either your garden or to give to
other happy gardeners. Who can resist a freebie?
By digging and dividing the plants you keep them at
manageable sizes and ensure that they will keep flowering. Prune all the
visible foliage to just above ground level and make sure that the soil is moist
before digging them out.
Plan to dig them out either early in the morning or
late in the day so they don’t dry out; this reduces stress on the plant. Cut
them into sections (or some can be pulled apart by hand) before replanting them
in the garden. If you’re not sure where they are to go, put them in pots to
plant at a later date or to give away.
Your roses need to be dead-headed, which will
encourage the plants to flower more freely.
Shrubs such as lavender and buddleia need to be trimmed and shaped, and
new trees and shrubs are best planted during the coming months when there is
less likelihood of stress to the plants.
Bulbs for your spring display should be planted over
the coming months, with a staggered planting to ensure a continuous flowering
period. Check your local nursery to see what seedlings are available and choose
your colour scheme for the coming spring.
In the vegetable garden
Now you need to dig the vegetable garden over prior to
planting the new season’s crops, but there is a problem. What on earth do you
do with those green tomatoes left on the plants that never seem to ripen?
One answer is to place them in a paper bag or
cardboard box and store in a warm, dark spot. The trapped ethylene gas they
give off will turn them red. To speed up the process, include a ripening
banana. Just don’t forget to check on them every couple of days or you may get
a nasty surprise instead of the lovely red tomatoes you expect.
This season is a vegetable planting bonanza with seeds
for beetroot, carrots, parsnips, radishes, turnips and swede due to go in and
seedlings for broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choi/pak choi,
cabbage, cauliflower, celery, coriander, fennel, herbs
(all except basil), kale, lettuce, peas, rocket, silverbeet, spinach, spring
onions and strawberries. Garlic bulbs may also be planted now – just plant them
in a drier spot so they don’t get them too wet and go mouldy.