Autumn Gardening Questions Answered with Pots & Trowels

It can be easy to assume that after the autumn pruning and leaf collecting is over that the garden jobs ease off, but that’s not the case – there’s plenty of work to be done! Martin Fish, our friend from Pots & Trowels, answers your tricky autumnal gardening questions and talks through some of the jobs that should be on your autumn to-do list this month on the Darlac blog.

You can join Martin Fish as he answers the questions in the video below, or you can keep reading to find out what how to tackle those autumnal garden jobs and solve some of your gardening woes!

How to fix patches of leatherjackets on lawns

Leatherjackets are the larvae of daddy longlegs (Opiliones), which you’ll usually see darting around the house in September and October. Daddy longlegs lay their eggs in the lawn over the summer and eventually greyish-brown grubs appear – these grubs are known as leatherjackets. The grubs feed on grass roots, and if you get a heavy infestation they can weaken the grass, and even leave ugly patches on your lawn. Chafer grubs can also have a devastating effect on your lawn.

The only way to really rid your luscious green grass of these pests is to control them with nematodes. However, it is a little late in the season to use these as the soil needs to be fairly warm before you add the nematodes. You would normally do this in July, August and perhaps into September, as this will control them effectively.

For now any bare patches, where the grass is thinning, can be dealt with by raking the soil and sprinkling on fresh grass seed. There is just about time for grass seed to germinate as the soil isn’t too cold yet. You should find germination happens within 10-14 days and your grass will then green over for the winter.

How to avoid black spot on rose plants

Black spot is a damaging disease for roses, as healthy green leaves take on a paler colour and dark brown-black blotches, or spots, appear on leaves. These leaves will often go yellow and then fall off. Black spot is easy to identify but disappointing when it appears.

The first rule is to pick off the infected leaves as soon as possible. It spreads very quickly from the spores released, so remove any leaves from the plant, the floor, or the soil immediately. Remember: these leaves shouldn’t be added to your compost heap as the disease will spread.

For next year, use a fungicide – if you’re happy to use it. However, it should be used very early in the season, that’s the secret. If you wait until you see the first signs of black spot, it could already be too late. After pruning your plant in the spring, you should spray the preventative fungicide little and often and this should keep your plant healthy.

What can be planted in autumn in the veg garden?

Although your options are limited at this time of year, as the summer veg has finished and the winter veg isn’t quite ready to be harvested, there are still options for planting veg in the autumn. You could try spring cabbages or kale plants if you can find them in a garden centre. If you do plant some veg, be sure to put a cloche over them. The veg won’t grow as big as earlier planted crops, but you will still get crops. You could plant over-wintering onions and they’ll be ready to harvest early summer. Alternatively, you could plant garlic now, or even packets of salad leaves. Have a go and see what happens! 

When can you start moving and splitting plants in the garden?

Herbaceous perennials are ready to be moved now in the autumn. As soon as the foliage has gone yellow, chop it down to ground level, dig up the clump and carefully tease it apart, then plant it so it’s got time to re-establish before the winter.

When is the best time to move a hydrangea?

The leaves on hydrangeas can still be quite green in the autumn, so it’s best to wait until the leaves start to turn or have fallen off before moving the plant. The falling of the leaves signals its dormancy, so you’ll know it’s ready to move and you can happily lift it without worrying about damage. Hydrangeas move very well as they have a fibrous root system that isn’t too deep.

Be sure to prune your hydrangea before you move it to reduce the top growth. Then, push your spade around the edge of the plant and lift it with a good root ball of soil attached. Add a heap or two of garden compost to the new spot and the firmly plant it so it won’t rock around. Add a watering can full of water to secure the plant and leave it root over autumn and winter.

What kind of green vegetables can you grow in a greenhouse in the autumn?

It’s getting late in the seasons for veggies, however a greenhouse changes things slightly. You can start by planting your salad leaves such as rocket or spinach, or even lettuces can be sown now in trays, and you’ll get plenty of fresh leaves you can harvest. Chard can be harvested as baby leaves, so it works well as a winter crop too.

How to keep pelargoniums alive

The best way to keep pelargoniums alive over winter is to prune them right down, as it stops them growing and it helps reduce the space they take up. This needs to be a harsh cut; you’ll need to prune back all the growth from this year’s season. It doesn’t need to be too precise, but you’ll need to get rid of all the foliage and reduce the growth. Then, keep the plant somewhere frost free and prevent the soil from getting too moist – it should be kept fairly dry. If kept in this way, fresh shoots will start to appear in the spring and you’ll have a strong and healthy plant.

You could even take some cuttings and propagate from your pelargoniums cut-offs. Trim a small cutting, 2-3 cm in length, and leave only a few leaves. Then, add this to a small plant pot and keep it moist. It will root over winter if kept warm, and it’s a great way to reuse and reduce waste.

If you enjoyed this blog, you might also like our blog post with more gardening tips and gardening advice with Pots & Trowels.

Where can I buy Darlac tools?

At Darlac, we’ve got the right tool to help you with your planting and pruning jobs. You can find them in store from your local garden centre. Find your local Darlac stockist here.  

If you enjoyed this blog post and the Pots & Trowels video, be sure to subscribe to Pots & Trowels on YouTube and to follow them on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for weekly practical videos all about gardening.

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