Set priorities for autumn season

'One ball' courgettes.
'One ball' courgettes.

“The nights are cutting in”, confided a friend last week, and that’s just one of several autumnal signs experienced recently.

We are indeed slipping into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, which means different things to different gardeners.

Botrytis is on the prowl so the carefree watering regime of summer has had to change.

For this fellow it promotes a sense of priority.

The countdown to first frost has begun and we still have perfectly good vegetables to pick.

Runner bean ‘Firestorm’ has been outstanding and continues to offer succulent pickings. We’ve been blanching and freezing the surplus, and it would be wasteful to pull out the plants prematurely. A few large pods have been allowed to mature for next year’s seed.

Courgette production ceased on the traditional bush plants of ‘Sure Thing’ a couple of weeks ago, leaving us with an embarrassment of large marrows. With the plants showing signs of deterioration in wet conditions, it’s also time to clear them.

However, the ‘One Ball’ trailing courgettes we tried for the first time this year have excelled so two plants will remain a while longer. They are still offering small, round treats.

Wasps and blackbirds have discovered that the apples and plums are ripe so any picking has to be done with due caution. Thankfully we’ve managed to salvage the lion’s share and still leave a few on the trees, along with windfalls, for garden wildlife.

Botrytis is on the prowl so the carefree watering regime of summer has had to change. Ventilating the greenhouse to encourage a constant flow of air has suddenly gone from important to essential.

Bare stems still support a substantial crop of tomatoes but I’m about to clear them from the border, fork-in a dressing of organic manure, and sow a leaf lettuce crop.

One clip in mid-August is generally enough to keep the beech hedge looking tidy until next spring, but this year it has demanded an extra light trim, which came last week. The privet is next in line just to keep it neat over winter.

Lawn cutting is also affected by seasonal change. It has become less frequent of late, and this is a reasonable time to sow seed or lay turf, giving it an opportunity to establish before seriously cold weather arrives.

If you’re preparing an area to grass over, it pays to do it well. Consider the drainage, fertility of the soil, and offer a general fertiliser before sowing or turf-laying.

Autumn for me also means a new series of our local garden club, the meetings starting next Tuesday and continuing for eight months.

That is always a good seasonal indicator as we assess the positives of the past growing year, chew over the negatives and plan ahead.