If you have a wildflower area, now is the time to cut it back. Use a strimmer and be sure to rake off the cuttings – the idea is to take the nutrients away so brutish weeds can’t thrive.
September and October are the perfect months to divide clumps of perennials.
If you see any gaps, look in your local nursery for autumn-flowering plants such as asters and rudbeckias, to give one last blast of colour before the frosts.
It’s still worth deadheading dahlias, roses and even sweet peas to keep them flowering for another few weeks.
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
When beans and peas have finished, cut off their tops but leave the roots as they will return nitrogen to the soil.
Marrows and pumpkins should be picked but left in a sunny spot for a few days to harden up before being stored. Left out they may start to rot before Halloween.
Heartsease is the loveliest viola with a mix of yellow, white and purple in its delicate flowers. Have a go at sprinkling some seeds into trays and place on a sunny windowsill. You should get a crop of beautiful flowers that you can use for winter pots and hanging baskets.
This is the time to sort out the lawn. Grass has an autumn growth spurt about now so any stress you put it under should grow out before winter sets in. Re-sow or lay new turf on areas that are bare or patchy. If you’ve got a lot of thatch in your lawn – old grass along the top of the soil –it might be a good idea to scarify the lawn. It’s hard work but not technically difficult. Just get a spring-tined rake and rake it out. It leaves the lawn in a bit of a mess in the short term but in time it will look healthier and greener.
Another treatment that creates a short-term mess but has long-term benefits is aerating or spiking the lawn. If it’s prone to waterlogging or a lot of moss grows in it, it may be compacted. Spiking it with a garden fork will help to get water and air through the soil.
Have a go at taking rose cuttings – it isn’t as difficult or time-consuming as you might think. Look for long, healthy stems and cut off about 30cm just below a leaf node with a straight cut.
Now take off the thorns and any leaves except one at the top. Plant a few of the cut stems around the edge of a pot filled with gritty compost. Water well and place outside to catch the rain. You may need to check on them a few times but they should root on their own over the winter and be ready to be planted individually next summer.
Dig up any remaining potatoes so they don’t get eaten by slugs. Leave the Christmas potatoes, which should still be forming.And swap, freeze, pickle or store any gluts of vegetables you may have.
DON’T FORGET TO…pick and dig up all the crops that are coming through. If you don’t eat it the slugs will!