* The Chief Weed Controller here (aka Mark) advises that the weeds are germinating in abundance and to make a weeding round a priority. If you get on top of this wave of weeds, you should have a largely weed-free winter and delayed start to spring infestations, especially if you lay a mulch after dealing to the blighters. We are a bit too wet now and there is not enough heat in the sun to make push hoeing effective unless you rake it all up immediately and remove it. Hand weeding or glyphosate (weed spraying, on a dry day) are the usual techniques for this time of year.
* If you are a less than enthusiastic gardener, get out to do the big autumn clean up before the weather turns cold and miserable. Otherwise you will spend the winter looking out the windows at a messy garden. If you do a trim, tidy and weed now, you can get through the next few months with the occasional mow and raking up the debris.
* Rake up autumn leaves in discreet piles so they can break down to give you rich leaf mould to rake back out onto the garden later. They will rot down more quickly in a heap.
* Cover your compost heap or bin, if you have not yet done so. It keeps the compost warmer and stops the goodness being leached out by the winter rains.
* Gardeners in inland areas should be battening down the hatches in preparation for early frosts. Take cuttings of frost prone plants like fuchsias, begonias and vireya rhododendrons as an insurance. Coastal gardeners probably don’t need to worry about this in our milder conditions.
* Remove saucers from beneath container plants, both indoors and out. It is not good for plants to sit around in cold water during winter. Cut back your watering of indoor plants – they are better kept on the dry side now.
* Part of your tidy up round of the vegetable garden is to sow all vacant areas in a green crop – urgently. Lupins, oats, even plain ryegrass will help. Green crops condition and nourish the soil in preparation for spring planting but even more helpfully, their roots stop the ground from compacting and make it much easier to dig over later, particularly in heavy soils.