Autumn/Winter Lockdown gardening jobs
Lockdown doesn't mean boredom and piling on the pounds
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Here we are again confined to home so it’s important that we look after our health, both physical and mental, gardening is one of the best ways to help. It gets us moving, gives us exercise and fresh air and can take our minds off this stressful situation. A garden gives us hope for the future as we have to plan ahead and now is the time to put this year behind us and think forward to spring. Even if you don’t have any outdoor space or just have a yard there are still plenty of jobs to keep you occupied, such as growing salad leaves on a sunny warm windowsill. Growing salad not only gives you the mental stimulation and satisfaction of producing something yourself but also saves money by not having to buy the small expensive bags from the supermarket, it is the healthiest way to eat your greens as cutting it just before eating retains all the nutrients.
Even if you don’t have a sunny windowsill you will always have a spot suitable for a houseplant, they are still available from most supermarkets and garden centres. If you don’t think you have greenfingers why not start with something easy such as cacti and succulents, spider plants or ivy. Just keep the spider plants and ivy damp and water the cacti and succulents every 2 – 4 weeks depending upon the temperature of the room, but what’s great is that they don’t mind if you forget for a week or two.
One of the best ways of looking forward to spring is by the arrival of the first shoots of spring bulbs. Spring bulbs are still available and ready potted up bulbs are available in some garden centres. All you need do with the ready potted bulbs is to sink the whole pot into a container or border, then lift them out once they have gone over in spring. Click here to read the blog giving you hints and tips on selecting and gowing bulbs.
Summer flowering hanging baskets and containers will have definitely gone over now so it’s time to plant autumn bedding. It need not cost a fortune, just packing a windowsill trough with pansies can look bright and cheerful and they’re readily available for just a few pounds from supermarkets and garden centres.
Summer flowering tubers can be lifted and kept frost free once the soil has dried and been brushed off, just store in some old dry compost or sawdust. Tender exotics also need to be brought into a frost-free environment over winter, such as a greenhouse or porch. Cleaning and disinfecting the greenhouse is one of those jobs which can be left to a wet day but is essential for removing any over-wintering bugs or moulds. Along with cleaning the greenhouse also check the heater to make sure it is safe; overwintering plants just need it frost free so the heater doesn’t need to be hot, even just circulating cool air will keep plants frost-free. Save on your energy bills by insulating your greenhouse with bubblewrap. Click here to read the blog giving you hints and tips on how to clean out your greenhouse.
Herbaceous borders can be revitalised at this time of year by dividing perennials and planting shrubs. There are many shrubs which will give you scent and colour over the winter so if your border is lacking interest once summer is over try Sarcocca humilis with its delicious scent. If you want something a little bit different consider one of the small grafted apple trees which have two or three varieties on one tree, not only do you have a lovely tree but also a crop in autumn. Staying at the herbaceous border, autumn is the ideal time to mulch, the soil is still warm and damp. Click here to read the blog showing how to apply the mulch.
Leaves are invaluable to the gardener they make a fantastic addition to the soil, providing structure and a beneficial environment for worms and micro-organisms, both of which make for stronger healthier plants. Rake up the leaves and add in thin layers to the compost heap or place in black plastic bin bags to rot down and make leaf mould. Stab the bags in the bottom and if the leaves are dry water them then leave for 8 – 12 months; once they have rotted down dig them into the border or add as a mulch to permanently planted containers. Click here to read hints and tips on what to do with autumn leaves.
Now is an ideal time to plant soft fruit, they need not take up a lot of space as they can be planted at the back of the herbaceous borders or in containers if you only have a patio. Now is the best time to buy them, they come bare rooted in bundles so are cheaper than buying a single plant in a pot. Click here to read the blog telling you how to plant bare root soft fruit.
Once you have your outdoor space sorted don’t forget to feed the birds; there was a hard frost in late spring this year which has taken out a lot of the berries which the birds would depend upon to see them through until spring. Finally if the weather is too atrocious to get outside why not settle down with a stack of seed catalogues and plan your veg garden for next year. Click here to read the blog advising how to feed the birds in winter. Don't forget you can still barbecue outdoors thoughout autumn and winter so why not reward yourself with a delicious al fresco lunch.