As autumn approaches and the garden is starting to settle back down after the lushness of summer, it’s time to think about what you can plant for next year.
Autumn is the ideal time to plant fruit bushes and trees. Bare-root trees such as apple, pear, plum and fig can be planted from late autumn through to early winter as the tree is in its dormant stage at this time. Trees can be bought bare-rooted or in a container, and you should look for well-developed roots in both cases.
Rows of raspberries
It’s also a good time to get those berry bushes in the ground or in pots. Raspberry plants can be planted between November and March, providing the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. Plants should be 45-60cm apart, and roots should be about 5cm below soil level – don’t dig them in too deeply.
Raspberries will also come as bare-rooted canes or in containers. Unless they are self- supporting, they are usually planted in rows and trained along a post and wire system. For smaller gardens try growing raspberries in a container.
‘Ruby Beauty’ is a variety that grows just 90cm tall and has no thorns. It’s a multi-branching plant, and as it requires no support it’s ideal for patios and borders; it can even be grown into a dwarf hedge if you set each plant about 1m apart.
Bountiful blueberry bushes
Blueberry bushes can be evergreen or deciduous and usually grow to about 1.5m high. They do well in pots and like to be in full sun or light shade. One blueberry plant will produce fruit, but with two different varieties to ensure cross-pollination you’ll get a much bigger harvest. Plant blueberries in autumn or winter with about 1.5m between plants and use a layer of mulch such as acidic peat, wood chippings or pine needles.
Gooseberries are very easy to grow and very unfussy, they’ll thrive in most kinds of soil, but they do prefer a sunny position. Container-grown gooseberries can go in at any time, but bare-rooted gooseberries should be planted in late autumn and early spring. Mulch the root area with garden compost or bark chips as this will help to retain soil moisture.
Birds, especially pigeons, will enjoy eating your berries before you can get to them, so try protecting your plants with netting or horticultural fleece.
Hot mustard greens
Hardier than milder greens, mustard greens keep on growing new leaves even in the depths of winter. Sow each mustard green seed just under the soil about 1cm apart. Thin the seedlings to about 7cm apart once they sprout.
Raw they are spicy in salads, but not as hot when they’re cooked. Sauté the mustard greens with onions, garlic and olive oil, and a dash of sesame oil, and they will taste a bit like spinach but with more heat.
Hardy peas and beans
Round seeded varieties of peas can be sown in October, and a variety that has excellent winter hardiness is 'Meteor', which can be grown in exposed areas. It’s compact enough to be grown in containers and will produce plenty of small pods.
Broad beans can be sown in September and October in milder areas to overwinter. ‘The Sutton’ is a dwarf variety that produces a plentiful supply of pods each containing five small, tender beans that are ideal for freezing. This is a compact plant that grows to a height of 30cm and is perfect for growing in small gardens or containers.
Autumn jobs in the garden
~ Now is a good time to divide overgrown rhubarb by digging around the root clump and splitting with a spade and replanting the healthiest clumps.
~ Old foliage can be removed from around the base of the strawberry plants to increase ventilation and encourage new growth.
~ At this time of year, when there are no berries to enjoy, you can allow birds access to your fruit bushes as they will eat any pests that may be present. You should also remove any diseased fruit from branches, or that's lying on the ground as it could spread infections to next year's crop.
Don't forget to check out our handy 'Grow Your Own: Month By Month Guide' for a clear summary of all of the delightful produce that you can plant in your British garden. You can also start preparing your spring and summer produce with our 'Grow Your Own This Winter' article.