Over summer you may have noticed parts of the garden that need shade or shelter from prevailing conditions. It may be time to consider planting a windbreak to protect the garden from those nasty south-west and easterly winds.
- Clean up weeds around fruit trees so pests cannot over winter among them
- Divide rhizomaceous, clump and mat forming plants
- Plant spring flowering bulbs soon
- Cool season crops such as peas, spinach, carrots, beets, the cabbage tribe – broccoli, mustard, etc can all go in, to await the cooler weather
- Take semi hardwood and hardwood cuttings
It is best to plant natives with the first rains of winter, whenever that might be, so they have longer to settle in during the cool, damp weather. They will possibly still need deep, weekly watering if the rain is lacking. Remember to make a bowl shape around the plant to help the water stay around long enough to soak in.
If it is windy where you live, plant smaller, young specimens so that the plant roots will be able to establish well in situ. Smaller plants will often quickly catch up in size to larger ones and are a lot cheaper.
Autumn is the time to plant containerised plants that you have been nursing over summer and to prepare the ground for bare-rooted deciduous specimens to be planted come June or July.
Deciduous plants, including berries, can be planted at this time of year. Berries need a rich spot where they can be pampered and plenty of room to expand as they grow new canes. Being forest plants they are expecting humus and rain, so they do take extra care, but it’s worth the effort if you like berry fruit.
If you have or live near large deciduous trees, collect the fallen leaves to make a compost heap. The big soft leaves will break down quickly and make great compost. It can be a great way to meet neighbors too, if you knock on the door and ask if you can collect the leaves from their verge or front yard, there’s a good chance they’ll be happy to see the leaves gone.
Any transplanting of deciduous plants can be planned for now as when the leaves are fully shed is the best time to move them. Make sure to prepare the new spot before you get the plant there and ensure the final soil level is the same before and after moving. Water it in really well to remove air pockets in the soil. The plant may need to be watered periodically to ensure it doesn’t dry out. Even deciduous trees need a bit of moisture to tick over during their resting season.
Trees have their shape affected by bad tying when they are young, and you can often see council or garden trees with strange bends where they were staked in an otherwise tall straight trunk.
Stake or tether long stemmed plants off to three pegs, equidistant around the trunk, low down on the stem, so the stem above it gets to strengthen, otherwise when you take the stake away the plant will have a flimsy stem or trunk. Tethering the tree also stops the root-ball from moving so new roots can establish quickly. Use wide rope, old stockings, bike inner tube or something else that won’t cut into the tree and check periodically that there is no bark damage.
Ponds/ Water Gardens
Remove dead and dying growth that may congest the water while it is cold and less active.
Once their tops have died down store water chestnuts in sand or coco peat in the fridge so they can be replanted when it warms up again.
Improve Water Filtration into the Soil
Create swales, bowls and/or terraces to impede rainfall and water flow as much as possible. It is far better to store the water in the soil on your property than let it go down the road or the drain.
Most areas around the Perth metro are sandy and may be very water repellant so sometimes with heavy rain some care may be needed to control runoff. Contouring and creating terraced areas help to prevent soil and water run-off when the winter rains arrive. Small channels can be directed to lead water away to somewhere useful if it does not soak in fast enough.
Clay soils have a whole different set of qualities and drainage is much more important. Dig moats or channels away from areas where water collecting may cause a problem but still try and get it to stay in the property by slowing its movement downhill.
If there are bare soil areas of soil they will be prone to erosion. Logs or trenches across a slope will help reduce this effect by slowing the water down, which aids infiltration. Mulch also helps to protect the soil from rain impact, which can wash soil away.
Ultimately, of course, something should be growing there to prevent erosion occurring, even if it is what you might consider a weed! Weeds help improve bare soil for other plants. Cover crops can be useful in these areas, tough species that will at least hold the soil together. Clover, mustard, vetch, broad beans, lucerne and clover are just a few. These tough pioneer type plants can prepare the soil for a less tough plant to grow in the slightly improved ground.
Now all we need is the rain!