- Allow winter squashes as long as possible to ripen on the plant but ensure they are harvested before the first frosts. While pumpkin and squash are ripening on the vine place boards or tiles below them to prevent the bases from rotting. (After harvesting let the skins harden or cure in the sun to help prolong storage hardiness.)
- Begin clearing spent plants and give a general tidying to prevent pests and diseases overwintering.
- If your soil is heavy, dig it over to allow time for weathering over winter to break it down and help improve soil structure. Add compost and leaf mulch.
- Salad and greens may be direct sown now, and several of these crops are ideal for containers, where slug control is easier and weeds are fewer. But crops are vulnerable to birds unless netted at this time of year. A top-dressing of nitrogen rich fertiliser in late winter will promote fresh leaves.
- Do not compost blight-affected foliage or tubers of potatoes and tomato plants.
- After harvest, ensure that the canes of summer-cropping raspberries have been pruned; cut back to ground level ensuring no stubs are left. Select strong young canes that have grown this year and tie them in along wire supports.
Plant-out tender vegetables
- Plant out spring cabbage.
- Sow fast-growing oriental greens such as pak choi and mizums.
- Salad leaves to sow now include coriander, dill, lettuce, endive, chicory, beetroot, chard, leaf beet, lamb’s lettuce.
- Greens to sow now: turnips, mustard greens, chinese cabbage, kales, radish, mustard spinach.
- Plant sets of overwintering onions. Onions planted in September will mature next July.
Sow for Early Spring Harvests (April / May Cropping)
- Winter lettuce
- Harvest sweet corn – kernels contain a milky liquid when ripe.
- Lift and harvest maincrop potatoes. Store in a cool, dry place. Do not store any damaged tubers.
- Black scabby blotches and cracking on maturing apples and pears indicates scab disease. Affected fruit will not store well but can be eaten now.
Flower / Ornamental Garden
- Keep deadheading late-season bloomers such as dahlia and salvia to keep them flowering to the first frosts.
- Herbaceous perennials may be lifted and divided to propagate and rejuvenate them.
- Relocate self-seeded biennials such as foxgloves if they are not growing in suitable locations.
- Plant spring bulbs such as tulips into pots. Plat daffodil bulbs.
- Plant trees and shrubs at the end of September while the soil is still warm.
- Shrubs can be lifted at the end of September and re-sited elsewhere as required.
- Keep camellias well watered to ensure good bud formation next spring.
- Take semi-ripe cuttings of many shrubs. A large range of plants can be propagated this way, including hebes, privet, heathers and viburnums.
- Encourage insect-eating birds to visit your garden by installing a feeding station.
- Young foxes from late litters are beginning to leave their parents.
- Bats are especially active in early autumn, laying down fat reserves for winter.
- Switch bird feed from protein rich seeds to fat balls to help birds build reserves for migration and/or winter survival.
- Lift fallen leaves from the pond.