The Big Autumn Tidy Up

30 September 2014 | Posted in Gardening by The Marshalls Family

Compost BinDead cabbage leavesThe Big Autumn Tidy Up

At this time of year there isn't too much to do in the garden but both you and your garden will benefit from a bit of a tidy up. Check over the vegetable patch and remove any yellow or dead leaves from overwintering brassica plants, these can provide a safe haven and hiding place for slugs and other pests and it goes without saying that they should all be added to the compost heap. A compost heap is an absolute must for gardeners and is the ultimate in re-cycling for plant debris, weeds and kitchen waste.

That said, I am not suggesting that every fallen leaf and dead stem should be surgically removed from your garden, it isn't just your garden, it is also home to a multitude of wildlife. After all nobody clears all the dead leaves and plants from the countryside and woodlands, a certain amount of leaves and debris is part of the natural cycle of a healthy soil and garden as well as providing a home for overwintering creatures such as ladybirds, frogs and toads.

If your compost heap has some well rotted material in the bottom then make good use of it and spread it over your vegetable plot and borders, don't bother to dig it in, the worms will do most of that for you. Winter digging is a thing of the past in my garden I just give it a very light fork over in spring before planting to loosen any weeds and otherwise leave it alone.  Soil is a living thing with its own eco-system and by far the best way to help it over is to just leave it alone with its winter mulch of compost which will nourish and care for it until spring.

If your compost heap hasn't got much useable material yet give it a good turn over before adding any new stuff. A compost heap is a complex mix of living organisms all working together to break down your waste into lovely crumbly humus to bring life to your soil. To do this it needs oxygen and turning your heap regularly will loosen, aerate and distribute healthy micro-organisms throughout the heap to give it a boost, it also needs water so make sure it isn't over dry, a slightly moist (not soggy) heap works best.

Clear out the greenhouse too, if yours is like mine it will be an untidy mess! There are bits of plant debris and spilt compost, old pots and trays and all manner of other stuff that need a thorough tidy up and clean. If it's done now you will be able to make the most of early spring next year and get on with sowing and planting instead of cleaning the greenhouse before you can start!

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