Preparing For Autumn
It all starts with a plan
Summer is a really good time to start to plan and prepare for Autumn plantings (I like to plant in autumn as the soil is still warm and give plants plenty of time to establish before it gets too cold). Summer days spent mowing the lawn gets me thinking and planning what I would like to replace, plant or repeat. Now’s a great time to plan for upcoming changes in the garden.
When starting the garden, I’ve broken down the establishment into little projects. It’s been good to have one area to focus on at a time… less overwhelming! In doing this, I’ve learnt lots about garden bed prep along the way. The first section, I planted directly into the ground, basically having to use a crow bar or softening the soil by filling little holes with water so that I could keep digging to make them bigger. Many of these plants have been slower to grow and some didn’t make it through the drought.
The second area I added some top soil from the paddock. Unfortunately, this soil was really heavy in clay and this area has had the biggest impact of waterlogging. The third area I got some loads of soil (loam) from another farm and built up the garden bed adding in blood and bone, sheep manure, using a pitch fork to mix it together . The plants have love this and thrived quickly.
I love to work out what plant combinations I’ll plant in the autumn, based on what’s worked well over summer and what survives our local conditions (a wander around a friend’s garden with similar water and soil or taking note of the local streets in your local town helps). I get lots of inspiration from online – insta, pinterest, homes to love.
I like to do sketches using coloured pencils to work out plant combinations. Some of you may remember me talking about my struggles with growing a murraya hedge. Ive persevered for years in one section, with not much success. I’ve decided that I will keep the ones that are still alive, but rather than replacing the ones that have died, I’m going to create a perennial border. I’ll shape the existing murrayas into spheres to form some structure for when the perennials are cut back in winter. I will plant out the bed with Russian Salvia, Agasatche ‘Sweet Lili’, Sedums and some lambs ear. This is a silvery, purple and pink combo.
First mark out the area you wish to establish into a garden bed. You can do this with a spray can and string or a hose. I personally prefer curves or hard corners as it makes it easier to mow. If it’s a small garden bed I remove the lawn with a shovel and replant somewhere outside the garden. If it’s a bigger area, I’ve used a bob cat.
I then bring some top soil in, mix it with manure, blood and bone and some gypsum. Cover with lucerne hay and let it settle for a few weeks. Remove any weeds before planting.
Autumn is a great time to plant as the soil temps are warm and help with root growth. This gives the plants time to establish before it gets too cold.
Once the plants are in, I put down dripper lines for irrigation. Then add lucerne hay as mulch (this keeps the weeds out and moisture in.