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As the days shorten and the nights draw in the garden starts to prepare itself for a well earned rest. Tasks at this time of year are generally focused on tidying up, replacing faded summer bedding and protecting fruit trees from overwintering pests.
I like to keep leaves separate from my general compost heap as they take a little longer to decompose and they are a valuable element for adding to potting composts for alpines and woodland plants. If space is limited you can mix them into your compost heap but make sure you bury them as an autumn wind can quickly spread them around the garden again.
To avoid this it is a good idea to collect fallen leaves and place them in a plastic sack or empty compost bag, tie the top with twine and stab the sides in two or three places with a garden fork. This allows air to get in and helps decomposition. Depending on the type of leaves collected it can take six to eight months for them to break down, (Beech are particularly slow). Try to keep on top of leaf collection especially on lawns as they can cause bare patches if left on the lawn for more then a week. If you have a garden pond it’s a good idea to place a net over the water to stop leaves dropping in the pond. If they fall into the water they are not only difficult to remove but can turn the water sour.
As summer bedding fades its time to remove old plants assigning the annuals to the compost heap, any perennials such as Fuchsia’s and Geraniums that you want to keep should be carefully lifted, a little of the soil removed and the plant cut back by half. Pot them up using fresh compost and place them in a frost free greenhouse. Water once then only if they really dry out.

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