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Time to look after your soil

The last month of Autumn is looming and the perfect time to do some important soil nourishment. Continued warm weather and some welcome rainfall has prolonged the growth of plants and unfortunately weeds.
It is an ideal time to remove weeds, dig in compost and nutrients for soil health before the ground becomes to heavy and cold. Mulching after this provides a blanket to keep the soil warm and supress weed growth.

Continue harvesting autumn treats of feijoa, guavas and persimmon as they ripen.
Apples and pears: continue late season harvesting. Once harvest is over and leaf fall is complete, these can be pruned and sprayed. Fertilise citrus around the base out to the drip line. Prepare strawberry beds for sowing young plants in June – November. Continue harvesting your late summer crops of beetroot, cabbage spinach and lettuce.
The ground is still warm enough to be planting more lettuces, spinach and brassicas. The last of the tomatoes if you have any left will still ripen on the plants albeit a bit slower due to shorter daylight hours. Sow seeds of beetroot, broccoli, broad beans, cabbage, carrots, onions, spinach, swedes and turnips.
If you have planted leeks at the end of summer as they grow, pile up the soil around the stems to provide
support and keep the stems white. The garden can be tidied up by cutting back lightly to refresh the plants and allow new growth.
As gaps appear in spots around the garden, sprinkle annual seeds of poppies, calendula, cornflower, marigold, stocks, and alyssum to name a few. Before planting dig in compost and sheep pellets.
Cover seed with a fine sprinkling of seed raising mix if you have some. Autumn is the best time for planting new shrubs and trees so they can
get established over the cooler winter months. It is time to plant new seasons daphne, camellias and rhododendron. These will add welcome colour to the garden in winter and early spring.
May is the last opportunity to get spring bulbs such as daffodils, freesia, hyacinth, jonquil, muscari and tulip in the ground. You still have time to plant lilies which are easy to grow and can be planted anytime between May and September. Dig in bulb food before planting and cover with 100mm of soil.
Once dahlia stop flowering the tubers and gladioli corms can be lifted stored in a dry place ready for replanting in spring. Plan for the addition of new roses by preparing the soil by adding compost. New roses should be coming into garden centres next month. Existing roses can have a light tidy up and spray with copper.
The compost heap will benefit from the addition of the autumn leaf fall. Many tree leaves are a particularly rich source of plant nutrient and make a valuable contribution to soil fertility. Turn compost heaps over regularly.
Stay healthy and enjoy your garden.
– Submitted by Ngatea Garden Circle