Autumn is well and truly here, the cooler nights, heavier dews and welcome rainfall makes it a great time of the year for gardening.
The days are shortening with increasing speed and many deciduous tree leaves are changing colour. Some of the spectacular ones to watch for are Liquidambar, Claret Ash, Maples and the Ginkgo.
This is probably the best time of year to start making changes to the design and shape of the garden. It is the ideal time to prepare a new lawn now the soil moisture has increased.
Read more: Gareth Carter: Time to plant winter vegetables
Gareth Carter: Fresh fruit one of gardening's pleasures
Gareth Carter: How to have a lovely lawn
Gareth Carter: Autumn's here and it's garden renovation time
Continue to plant most spring flowering bulbs this month, particularly Daffodils, Freesias, Dutch Iris and Crocus. Tulip bulbs and also Hyacinths will benefit from chilling in the fridge.
I am sure that in every garden large or small there is room for a few bulbs. They can be planted in threes or fives amongst stones or in tubs, bowls and hanging baskets.
Hyacinths can be grown indoors in a bottle or flask. Just a few daffodils in pots placed around your front entrance can give a real "zing to spring" – give it a go!
The stormy weather in the last couple of weeks has bought many of the summer annuals to the end of their life. Now is the time to remove them and replace with winter and spring flowering plants.
Although many people think only of pansies, polyanthus and primulas when planting winter annuals there are other varieties that can be used to give cheerful colour during the coming months. stocks, antirrhinums (snapdragons), forget-me-nots, canterbury bells, sweet william, carnations, dianthus, calendula, cineraria (in frost free pockets), poppys and alyssum are all proven winter bedding plants.
It is time to sow sweet pea seeds now.
There are some stunning varieties available now, check out the varieties some great ones in the Mr Fothergill's seed range include; Mammoth Mixed, Bi-colour Mix, Bijou Mix, Cupani, Explorer Mixed, Perfume Mix and Princess Elizabeth.
Seeds can vary in colour from pale buff to black. Generally it is recommended to speed germination by placing sweet pea seeds on a wet paper towel over night before planting.
Do not soak sweet pea seeds as they are susceptible to rotting which can occur if they are too wet. Cultivate the soil well about two weeks before sowing and add all purpose fertiliser at the recommended rate. Unless the soil is particularly alkaline sweet peas respond well to an application of dolomite lime, 250gms (one cup) per square metre.
Place supports for your sweet peas prior to sowing. Sow the seeds directly where they are to grow, into damp soil and firm down. Water with a fine spray, but do not water again until after germination is complete (usually 10-14 days). Do not overwater seedlings – if there is is no rain a good watering once a week is better than a light daily spray.
Feed with a liquid fertiliser such as 'Ican Fast Food' every two weeks once flower buds appear and continue throughout the flowering period. Pick flowers regularly and remove spent blooms on their stalks to encourage new flowers. Protect from snails with 'Yates Blitzem'.
Have a great week!
Gareth Carter is General Manager of Springvale Garden Centre