Sunday, 7 November 2010

Autumn clearance

This weekend I carried out a few tidying-up tasks. Most of my crops have finished for the Winter now, and the garden is looking a bit bedraggled. I am not yet ready to collect up the fallen leaves, because I know that I would only have to do it all over again later. Better to wait till all of them have fallen, and then do it just once.

A thick carpet of maple leaves...
First on my list of jobs was to cut down the Asparagus fern. Back in September I said that it would probably go yellow by the end of that month, but it didn't. Perhaps because late September and early October was mostly fairly mild, the fern has stayed green much longer than I had expected. Now it is rapidly fading. When the colour changes, that's a sign that the foliage can no longer do its task of converting sunlight into energy.

The Asparagus fern ready to be removed

So off it came. I normally cut the fern about 5cm above ground level, so that I can still see where the plants are, in case I want to put some more canes in without damaging what's below ground. The fern of course ends up in the compost bin. For some reason it seems to rot down very slowly, and in order to speed things up I usually cut it into small pieces and distribute it around, rather than putting it in "all in one lump" as it were.

Now that the Asparagus is gone, you can see the Broccoli

There is no room in any of my compost bins just now, so I'll have to leave the Asparagus fern on one of the raised beds until something has decomposed enough to make some space!

I left a little of the Asparagus stalks visible

Next on the list was to remove this year's raspberry canes. Mine are of the variety "Autumn Bliss". They are primocanes, which means the fruit forms on the current year's growth, not the previous year's. It is normal therefore to cut down the canes when the fruiting season has finished. Actually you can do this task any time during the late Autumn or Winter - just get it done before the new growth begins in the Spring. I find that if you leave the tall canes in place they get blown around by the wind too much, and this could perhaps loosen the roots.

The raspberry canes just before being cut down
The canes are very prickly, so I have to wear gloves for this task. Again, I usually leave a few centimetres of cane so that I can see where each plant is, particularly since I'm planning to give the raspberries a good layer of homemade compost at Christmas time. My raspberries have done fairly well this year. I never get a huge quantity of fruit at once, so we wouldn't be able to make jam, but instead we get a nice steady flow of fruit over a long period (about 4 months). Every few days I am able to pick say 200g, which is enough for a dessert for two people, perhaps with the addition of a scoop of ice cream.

Here we are then -- raspberries all gone:

Just the fruit trees left along the fence...

After these bigger jobs I just went round the garden neatening things up -- removing any remaining dead flower-heads, picking yellowing leaves off the brassicas, removing any unsightly twigs from the shrubs, etc. I like to keep my garden looking as neat as possible, since because it's very compact, everything is visible! My friendly little Robin accompanied me as usual -- he was very happy to dig around in all the leaf-litter where the raspberries had been, picking up insects. While I was working, a flock of Long-Tailed Tits went through the garden. They are restless, noisy things, constantly on the move and always chatting to each other as they go.

Here's what the plot looks like now. Compare it with the "Real life plot" picture in my sidebar, taken in August.

The plot in November looks very different to how it was in August

The bed in between the ones covered in fleece is the one with the parsnips in. On the right of the picture is the Broccoli and Kale. On the bed at back right is the bright yellow asparagus fern awaiting disposal.

Later in the day my little grandaughter Lara came round and inspected my handiwork...

She seems happy with the results!


  1. Wow you've been very productive this weekend. Our autumn raspberries are still fruiting so it will be a while till I can cut them down (some Autumn Bliss, some Polka). A small handful every couple of days goes straight into the freezer, suspect they will all end up in raspberry and chocolate chip muffins for my husband through the next month or so...

  2. Mark, I love the photos showing all the changing seasons! I can only imagine having to deal with snow and ice! I, like you have massive amounts of leaves to contend with and have worked out that it is best just to do a couple of major clean ups. Ours are oak leaves which take a bit longer that maple I believe. I can only hope to get to being so neat and organised with our garden, hard while renovating as well. Cheers!


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