Autumn Tidy Up

This weekend I have had an opportunity to get out into the Telford garden enjoying the golden autumn sunshine and doing some tidying up. 

I have not had much time to spend in this garden over the summer and until yesterday had not actually done any work in it since May!  My partner has been cutting the lawn and tidying up some shrub borders, but as far as the polyculture patches go, they have looked after themselves all summer.  Of course by October they do start to look untidy and in need of some attention.  In line with my avowed intention to keep work to a minimum I have so far spent three and a quarter hours tidying up.  This has involved

  • Cutting back raspberry canes.
  • Pruning blackcurrant and jostaberry bushes (using the prunings as cuttings).
  • Cutting back dead or dying flower spikes on toad flax, foxglove, mint, St John’s wort, wild marjoram and others.
  • There has not been much “weeding” to do as the ground cover plants in place are generally okay to remain; for the most part these are a mix of seedling forget me nots, buckler leaf sorrel, herb Robert, creeping Jenny, violets.
  • There are patches of nettles which I cut back and not all the grass was totally eradicated when I made the beds from upturned turves so that needed to be pulled out of quite a lot of nooks and crannies.
  • In places a covering of speedwell had grown expansively across the ground and needed to be pulled back.  Interestingly it had spread quite a long way from its roots and although there was a lot of plant material it came up in a few armfuls with no effort at all.
  • The dead flower spikes were placed along the pathways I walk on across the patches.  This keeps them clear of plants and eventually breaks down to join the soil.  I use twiggy / shrubby material for this usually.
  • The wild strawberries have grown much larger than they used to be and started to crowd other plants.  I have been able to remove quite a few to take to the other garden along with Welsh onions and chives.
  • I stuck sticks in the ground beside the bases of the oca and mashua plants as once the frost comes they quickly disappear and I may lose the place to dig for the tubers!
  • I have been able to add seeds of fennel, quinoa, marjoram, calendula, phacelia, sweet cicely to my growing collection for next year.

Calendula flowers and seeds still going strong

In May 2011 I wrote about the way the soil has become almost “fluffy”, very soft and fine textured and how I was able to pull long deep rooted docks and dandelion plants out intact.  Yesterday I was tugging at an angelica plant that has been enormous this year; it had set seed and the main stem had died and I was attempting to break it off.  I was only pulling gently and the whole thing came up in my hand with a very long root indeed.  I did not actually measure it but it must have been well over a foot long.

All in all it was a few hours spent very enjoyably!  I continue to be very pleased with the way the garden gets along with next to no input from me.  As the weather has been very mild so far the root vegetables are continuing to grow, the Jerusalem artichokes are even taller this year than ever before and crowned with sunny yellow flowers.  I will not be harvesting the roots for a while and am keeping my fingers crossed that there is bounty below ground that matches the exuberant growth above it.


About Anni Kelsey

I love forest gardens and forest gardening, nature, reading and everything good about being alive. I have written two books - the garden of equal delights (2020) - about the principles and practice of forest gardening; and Edible Perennial Gardening (2014) - about growing perennial vegetables in polycultures, which is basically forest gardening concentrating on the lower layers.
This entry was posted in Forest Gardening, Perennial Vegetables, Permaculture, Polycultures, Relationship with nature, roots and tubers, Telford Garden and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Autumn Tidy Up

  1. Vivi says:

    May I ask how you are treating the currant and jostaberry cuttings to use them to propagate this late in the year? ‘Cause as far as I’ve always been told, you’re supposed to prune them shortly after harvesting, and even those cuttings won’t actually form roots for me. I tried to propagate my gooseberry bush after cutting it back in early summer, but all the little cuttings were withered by end of September. (I put them in the tomato pots which were watered regularily through the summer drought, so they didn’t just dry out.) Only one other cutting I broke off accidentally in spring (long before the berries were ripe) survived. Same with the red currants – only accidental break-off from spring successfully develops roots.

    Similarily, the two dozen hazel cuttings I made last October (and left outside stuck in soil all winter) brought out leaves from the existing buds in early spring, but failed to form roots and so died shortly after.

    I live in northern Germany, so my winter is probably a bit colder than yours (up to -15 or even -20°C sometimes) and my currant / jostaberry / gooseberry bushes have lost the last of their leaves in late October. But still, the difference in climate can’t be so extreme to move recommended pruning times by several months, can it?


    • annisveggies says:

      Hi Vivi

      I am just leaving the currant / jostaberry cuttings in pots over the winter. Last year I stuck some directly into the ground at this time of year and some, but not all rooted. This year because I am moving things from one garden to another they need to go in to pots to make the journey. I have just been outside to check and I can see the buds on the cuttings swelling slightly. I very much doubt that they have any roots yet, but I have my fingers crossed that they will eventually. I will try to remember to update this next spring.

      The reason I use the twigs and branches I cut off for cuttings is just because it is worth trying to see if it works. I keep trying things just to see and some of them do, some don’t.

      Best wishes



      • Anni Kelsey says:

        Hi Vivi

        It has taken me a while to get back about this, but yes my autumnal blackcurrant and jostaberry cuttings did take. I put some in pots and some anywhere at all I could find space in the garden. I have had maybe a couple of dozen to plant out in both gardens and still have a few more left to move. Perhaps I was just lucky, but my philosophy is to just try things even if they may not work. If it only takes a moment to pop some cuttings in and othewise they would just go to compost or mulch I might as well see if I can get some new plants.


  2. wspines says:

    I enjoy your blog so much, the pictures are great. My soil too has become light and fluffy. I think its from all the manure, compost and wonderful worms.


  3. Andy P says:

    No need to point me in the right direction for the best starting place as I’ve sat and read the entire lot today. Very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I have made a list of all the plants you mention along the way so I can read up one by one and I will refer back to a few posts as and when needed.


    • annisveggies says:

      Hi Andy

      I can see from the stats that you have been busy reading! I am very glad to hear that have enjoyed reading it. If you have any questions please comment / email me (annisveggies at hotmail dot co dot uk), also if you would like any seeds / tubers etc it is coming to the time of year when I have things spare to share, so just let me know. I have had a brief glimpse at your blog and will come back another time to read more. All the best with your project.



  4. Andy P says:

    Hi Anni,

    Having recently taken a field that floods (last year) and trying to turn it into a wildlife haven which also grows as much of my food as possible and having recently got into permaculture can you point me to which may be the best post of yours to start reading. I am going to go through all your posts one by one when the weather prevents me from getting out side much but I’d like to start thinking about perennial veg and which in your opinion are best to start producing.

    My blog is at so you can see what I am doing so far.

    Thanks for reading and now I’m about to start from Jan 2011 of your blog and plough through trying to pick up tips 🙂



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