Autumn storms began in mid September; but there were settled spells with mild temperatures and beautiful sunny days, writes Jackie Power…
However, the autumn equinox has now passed (21st September) nights are much cooler and daylight hours are reducing by two minutes a day!
Leaves have been slow to change colour; early gales started stripping them off trees whilst still green. Steady leaf loss has occurred throughout the year caused by exceptional summer heat and dry conditions.
The autumn garden clear up continues – producing lots of green waste. If you don’t have a composting facility it’s easy to set one up.
Composting is not complicated – there are several methods; the easiest is to use a standard plastic compost bin (there are many types available).
Place in a discreet corner of the garden (not in shade), directly onto soil.
Start with a layer of woody twigs at the bottom before adding materials (to assist air circulation).
Use a mix of young weeds, lawn cuttings, leaves (small amounts) old bedding plants, green prunings; Also add cut up cardboard packaging, insides of kitchen/toilet rolls; vegetable peelings, tea leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells (in moderation).
Currently, most tea bags contain plastic and need to be emptied. Always cut up woody material and prunings – thicker stems and small branches do not break down.
Success depends on using a variety of materials (as mentioned above). No need to turn/mix the contents (heat, microbes and insects will do the work).
If the compost appears too dry add water (don’t soak it) if too wet add dry materials. NEVER use cooked/raw meat, fish, bones, cat litter, dog faeces or disposable nappies.
These materials don’t break down in a compost bin; and will foul the contents, smell unpleasant and attract rats, flies/maggots.
When the bin is packed full (it doesn’t stay full for long; lower layers are always rotting down) stop adding materials.
Leave undisturbed for 6 months or until the contents resemble dark, crumbly soil with an earthy smell; the compost is then ready to use! Space permitting; keep two bins so another can be started once one is full.
And finally, change window box displays to seasonal plants; choose tiny perfumed cyclamens, violas and heathers.
Tuck spring flowering bulbs between foliage plants – ivy, ferns (Asplenium or Athyrium pictured ) small conifers such as Juniper communis ‘Compressa’ or Chamaecyparis ‘Filifera Nana’ and Hebes – ‘Emerald Gem’ or Hebe ‘Pagei’.