“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." Victorian author Mary Anne Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot, wrote of her love for autumn back in 1841 and although we all have our favourite season, it is hard to deny the “deliciousness” of autumn. It is a beautiful time of year when the fresh air is invigorating, the sunlight is soft and the rain is plentiful. The evenings are gradually reining themselves in signalling that winter will soon be upon us. Early autumn is an important time for us gardeners- it is a time when the chores undertaken now will have bountiful benefits for seasons to come.
Autumn is a great time for transplanting since the soil has sufficient moisture thanks to regular rain showers. The ground is still warm from the summer sunshine and pleasant temperatures which allows plants sufficient time to establish themselves in their new position and form new strong roots.
One of the most pleasant tasks on the autumn gardening to-do list at this time of year is surely planting flower bulbs. After all, the small brown bulbs represent a promise of flowers for the coming spring; a promise of future beauty and fragrance. Keep in mind when buying bulbs that it is best to buy relatively large ones as they will bloom better. Saving money by buying inexpensive small bulbs might cost in disappointment next spring. If you live in rural areas, give some thought to putting your bulbs under plant covers to protect them from little visitors such as field mice and other rodents that would gladly enjoy a nice bulb buffet.
The rule of thumb for depth is for the hole to be at least three times as deep as the height of the bulb. Alternatively, if you choose to plant your bulbs in pots, you can use the sandwich method positioning different types, one above the other in layers. By coordinating the flowering times of the various types of flower (refer to your plant tags), the individual layers will blossom one after the other mimicking a fireworks display. Another idea is to plant bulbs of the same species in two to four sets at an interval of ten to fourteen days in order to achieve a long flowering period.
Having harvested all your summer bounty, it is now time to turn your attention to the wonders of winter vegetables. Lettuce, carrot, silverbeet, broad beans, kale, radish, turnip, beetroot, parsnip, celery, onions, leeks, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts. Let’s not forget the herbs; coriander, chives and parsley. Plant a few, plant them all; either way, you will have tasty ingredients for many delicious meals.
Although pruning is a year round activity, heavy pruning is best left to autumn when your hedges are no longer under the summer strain of extreme temperature. Bring your hedges back to their desired shape using sharp Hedge Clippers and remember to keep a slightly slopping line when clipping the sides with the base slightly wider than the top to allow all leaves to enjoy their share of sunshine.
The air may be starting to get cooler at this time of year but the soil underfoot is still quite warm which means that your grass is still growing. Feeding your grass a nice dose of fertiliser will encourage root growth and give it the extra boost of vigour it needs to get through the winter.
If you have deciduous trees on your property, make sure to rake up your leaves as they fall. Leaves left lying on the lawn will deprive it of light and encourage the formation of dry, brown patches and moss growth.
With cooler temperatures, shorter periods of sunlight and more abundant rain, watering becomes less of a priority but must be actively managed none the less. If you are equipped with a water computer, now is the time to adjust your program to autumn conditions by reducing the frequency of watering sessions and the length of time of each session.
You might want to consider the purchase of Rain and/or Soil Moisture Sensors to connect to your water computer. These clever accessories will ensure that you take into consideration rain and soil moisture when using your automatic watering system. The rain sensor automatically pauses your watering program during rainfall. Why use precious tap or rain water when the clouds are glad to supply it.
A Soil Moisture Sensor can be used in conjunction with a Rain Sensor or as a stand-alone. With three moisture levels to choose from, once set, your watering program is paused once the desired soil moisture level has been reach. Considering rainfall and soil moisture throughout the year is important but especially in autumn when the weather can be very erratic.
Breath in the crisp fresh air and enjoy this magical time of the year!