Autumn gardening tips provided by Sustainable Gardening Australia
March brings cooler mornings and a welcome change from the heat of summer. Now is a great time for planting some fast growing herbs in your garden. Culinary herbs such as parsley, coriander, chives, winter savory and dill will all grow well from seed sown now.
Dill is particularly useful in a winter garden as it helps repel Cabbage White Butterfly, a tiresome pest if you plan to grow broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages or asian greens this winter. If mozzies are a problem in the garden these evenings, plant some Pennyroyal to act as a repellent. For added protection, mix some crushed leaves with your favourite oil or cream and apply before going outside.
Don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful autumn foliage as trees start to change colour and shed their leaves. Instead of binning autumn leaves, collect and store them for your garden compost. By layering your compost bin with green materials (kitchen vegetable scraps, lawn clippings, soft prunings etc) and brown materials (autumn leaves, straws etc) you will have wonderful garden compost in no time. Adding this compost to your garden soil will ensure that it is healthy and full of life throughout the year.
April starts with an Easter break and this is a good time to oil and sharpen your garden tools. Its worth investing in good tools that can last a lifetime. This month you will need to prune your summer flowering perennials such as buddlejas, penstemons, salvias and daisy bushes . These plants that looked so beautiful through summer will now be looking very tired. Firstly cut off any dead plant material and remove old flowers. Clean up any diseased plant parts but don’t put them in your compost bin. Make sure that you thin out congested growth. To finish, apply a little seaweed tonic to the plants’ root zone and don’t feed again until next spring.
May means its time to start pruning your fruit trees, except apricot trees that should be left until spring. Unless you are an experienced pruner, prepare for this by going to a pruning demonstration class run by your local council or water authority. Otherwise you may inadvertently cut off next years fruiting spurs. Clean up around your fruit trees and remove dead leaves and mummified fruit that may harbour diseases or pests over winter.
Plant out some winter annuals to brighten up the coming months. Old fashioned beauties such as calendulas, violas, primulas and polyanthus flower over long periods. Miniature cyclamen planted under a deciduous tree will flower for many years. For a conversation piece, plant a bowl of spring flowering bulbs in a sunny spot and enjoy watching them grow and bloom over the coming months.