1. Clear and collect fallen leaves:
- Rake up fallen leaves and keep them in an old compost sack. They’ll rot down over winter to make beautiful leaf mould that you can use as mulch to enrich the soil in your borders in spring.
2. Rake or treat moss
- Either rake moss from your lawn or use a weedkiller to treat it. Left alone, moss will turn to thatch which can cause disease and drainage problems.
3. Clean pond pumps:
- Clean the filters of pond pumps before water becomes frozen or icy cold. It’s likely they’ll be pretty clogged after a long season of work and it’ll save you an unpleasant job come spring.
4. Aerate your lawn:
- Push a garden fork into your lawn at 10cm intervals to help aerate your lawn and improve drainage ahead of the wetter weather. This should help protect against disease and the spread of moss.
- When you’re aerating your lawn, pay particular attention to busy garden paths and children’s play areas as these will likely be compacted and need aerating the most.
5. Feed and repair your lawn:
- Use a high potassium lawn feed to help repair and restore your soil’s nutrient balance.
- You may also want to lightly sprinkle lime across your lawn to help sweeten the soil ahead of spring.
- If your lawn is bare or patchy, now’s the time to sow new lawn seed – just make sure to set up a bird protector and give the seed time to germinate before the first winter frosts.
6. Paint and treat your woodwork:
- Wetter weather can take a real toll on your woodwork, so do your best to protect it by re-painting and treating your wooden fences, gates and furniture.
- If you make this a yearly ritual, they should last longer too, saving you money in the long run.
7. Collect seeds to use next year:
- Inspect your border plants as plenty will have seed to offer.
- Collect any you see in a paper bag, taking care to label it clearly. Make sure the seeds are dry and store them in an air-tight container in a cool, frost-free place – tupperware or an old metal biscuit tin is ideal. Doing this will give you plenty of free seed to use again next year – making this a must for thrifty gardeners.
8. Maintain your tools:
- Your tools regularly contend with rotting debris and soil, which can lead to the spread of bacteria to your healthy plants. Avoid this by using a brush or cloth to remove dirt and debris from your tools, dipping or soaking them in a disinfectant solution, then drying them carefully with a soft dry cloth.
- Oil tools such as clippers every few months to prevent them from rusting.
- On a daily basis, store your tools such as trowels and forks by filling a container with sand until an inch from the top, then pouring in ¼ cup of motor oil or vegetable oil. Wipe your tools with a rag then pop them in the container. The sand will help keep your blades sharp and the oil will prevent rust.
- If you keep your tools in a metal box, a great way to prevent rust is to put a couple of BBQ charcoals in with them, which will absorb the moisture which can collect in metal boxes away from your tools. If you’re worried about everything getting covered in coal dust, just pop the charcoals in an old sock and tie up the end to keep it contained.
- Ensure you keep your cutting tools nice and sharp so you are able to undertake any cutting tasks as quickly and easily as possible. To sharpen blades of knives and secateurs, use a fine sharpening stone, and prepare it with a few drops of general-purpose lubricating oil. Then turn the blade over and, holding the blade almost flat against the stone, brush it across the surface to take off any rough edges.
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Plant of the Month: Fuchsia
Fuchsias are grown for their very attractive, usually pendent flowers that are borne more or less continuously from summer to autumn. They are useful in summer-bedding schemes, containers or in the ground. Some fuchsias are hardy enough to be used as hedges and in permanent plantings.
All fuchsias have the same general routine care: In the garden grow in fertile, moist but well-drained soil, with shelter from cold, drying winds. In containers, use a loam-based potting compost (John Innes No 3) or peat-free multipurpose compost. Water fuchsia plants sufficiently to keep the compost moist but not waterlogged. Do not leave plants standing in water. Fuchsias prefer shade for the hottest part of the day.
Common name Fuchsia
Botanical name Fuchsia
Group Half-hardy perennial/shrub
Flowering time Summer to autumn
Planting time Hardy types: plant in spring or autumn. Half-hardy: plant out after danger of frost has passed
Height and spread Various
Aspect Full sun or partial shade
Hardiness Fully hardy to frost tender
Difficulty Easy to moderate