In the Garden: March 11, 2011

Time to think about lawn renovation

Time to think about lawn renovation

• Early autumn is a good time to do a fertilising round. Give priority to deciduous plants. Fed at this time, the plant will gain the benefit and strengthen itself before it goes dormant for winter. Certainly feed all fruit trees – when you are cropping and pruning plants, you are interfering with their usual routine of maintaining themselves so they need a bit of help. You can use cheap and cheerful, general purpose fertilisers for this task – blood and bone, Bioboost, Nitrophoska Blue and similar. Compost is a good, natural food.

• As you harvest summer vegetables, if you have areas you don’t want to use for winter cropping, sow a green crop. Lupin, oats and ryegrass are good options for this time of the year. Green crops will be dug into the ground in early spring. Their purpose is to replenish the soil. They also help to keep the place looking more cared for – without green crops, the weed invasion to bare soil will be considerably worse.

• It is really important to keep up the succession of planting winter crops – another few plants of all the brassicas, some more leafy greens of the winter lettuce, winter spinach types, even peas and more Florence fennel. It is a bit early for broad beans yet – wait until May.

• The basic rules of crop rotation are the green crop followed by the greedy feeders like potatoes, corn and cucurbits. Next come the leafy greens and brassicas and last are the root crops (carrots, parsnips etc) because they don’t like to grow in recently fertilised soils. Crop rotation is all round good practice in terms of reducing disease problems and keeping the soils in better condition – giving better harvests.

• Inland areas with chillier winters might like to do a light hedge pruning round now to keep the garden looking sharp. The trick of timing is to get it so the hedge just has a light flush of fresh growth before it stops growing for winter. In milder, coastal areas, leave the trim until later in April or you will end up needing to trim twice.

• Lawns, think lawns. Early autumn is a really good time to be over sowing existing lawns and laying new areas. The heat has gone out of the sun but there is still sufficient warmth and day length to get the seed germinating and started. Just make sure that the areas do not dry out if we get a longer spell without rain.