Cold weather approaches: If the mild weather still holds there is still time to get things done before frost chills the soil. Sow broad beans, plant garlic bulbs and, if you can find them purple sprouting broccoli plants. The latter would benefit from being covered with a protective cloche. Do a bit of sorting out in the border as you will also be able to split and move perennials – but leave grasses they would not appreciate being moved at this time. Plant tulip bulbs, I am always behind hand with this and usually get away with it. Tulips are so bright and brilliant, they repay any effort. Plant them in deep pots with crocks in the bottom to ensure very good drainage. Then they can be placed around the garage when in flower. Harvest late apples and store in a cool dark place, a garage or shed, each one separate and not touching, many people wrap in newspaper.
Warm up with Work: Turn the compost heap. I have the Dalek shaped variety, which with a bit of muscle you can lift right up leaving a cone of potential compost. Put out a plastic sheet and tip the whole thing over and mix it up, breaking up big lumps. Then put the Dalek back in place and fill it up again. The idea is to get air into the mix. It should be damp, so if it resembles hay, add water to the finished heap. Rake up fallen leaves and contain them within a bin or plastic sacks with holes in them. Leaf mould does not need the same attention as compost. It will just rot quietly and this time next year it can be spread on the soil as a lovely dark brown weed free mulch.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch: Do it now to protect soil structure from pounding by heavy rain over the winter.
Pot Watch: Protect pot grown plants from the winter risks of waterlogging or freezing by lifting the pots off the ground with little stones, or purpose made clay ‘feet’. Make sure drainage holes are not blocked. Take any tender plants under cover. Put a cloche over spinach or lettuce.
Stop the Rock: Prune out dead or rubbing branches and long whip like shoots on roses. This will lessen the wind resistance and keep the plant from being blown about, loosening the roots. It is a good time to prune acers – when the leaves fall you can see the shape of the tree. Do not to tempted to chop off the ends of the branches, this will cause a bunch of sprouting sprigs to grow at the cut end. Select a branch that you want to remove, that is unbalancing the shape of the tree for instance, cut it in half, then remove the remaining half back to the trunk. Remove any rubbing or broken branches.
Creatures and critters: Aid overwintering birds, animals and insects. To provide natural food for the birds; leave seedheads and berries in place, resist the temptation to be too tidy. Don’t have a bonfire, but do make a stack of prunings to provide shelter for all sorts of creatures.
Shopping Opportunity: Order trees and roses for bare-root planting.