Autumn foliage and produce brings smiles to any gardener!

With the arrival of April, gardeners can start to feel that autumn really has arrived. For many areas summer and early autumn was warmer and drier than usual but hopefully the arrival of mid-autumn will bring some gentle rain for parched gardens and the wider landscape. One benefit of a warmer start to autumn is the continued abundance of garden produce with ongoing supplies of tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins, squash, apples and pears as well as nuts such as hazelnuts and walnuts.

What to do in your garden in mid autumn in April 2024 to harvest summer product and autumn garden rejuvenation

Autumn colour

While most people think of trees as the main source of autumn colour for gardens, don’t overlook shrubs and climbers. Some of the best early autumn colour, particularly in cool climates, comes from shrubs. The Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) takes a star turn in autumn with its display of bright red and orange leaves. It’s backed up by the deep burgundy tones of oakleaf hydrangea, which has large oakleaf-shaped leaves. Also eye-catching are witch hazels and parrotia (Parrotia persica), which can also be grown as a small tree.

Another early contributor to autumn colour is ornamental grapevine also known as crimson glory vine (Vitis coignetiae). This large sprawling vine has large red to crimson autumn leaves that look spectacular in autumn.

When looking for a shrub or climber, check out your local neighbourhood for plants that grow well in your area or visit your local hardware and garden centre who can give you great advice on ideal plants for your garden.

Variegated leaves add contrast and interest

Although autumn is all about leaf colour, evergreen variegated plants add foliage colour all year round. They are particularly striking during winter when many other plants are bare. Variegations, which are usually seen as white or yellow markings on leaves, but can also be pink, red, purple or a mix of many colours. One of the most popular plants with red variegated foliage is Coprosma ‘Pacific Sunset’, which is a shrub with bright red leaves with a burgundy leaf margin. Flowers too can be variegated including camellias and tulips.

Variegations in leaves are due to a mutation within the plant that causes it to send out an odd branch that lacks chlorophyll in some cells. Chlorophyll is the pigment that makes leaves green and allows them to carry out photosynthesis.

While massed planting with variegated plants may be too much, a few variegated plants really lift gardens and injects colour. Look for variegated forms of popular shrubs in garden centres.

What to do in your garden in mid autumn in April 2024 to harvest summer product and autumn garden rejuvenation
What to do in your garden in mid autumn in April 2024 to harvest summer product and autumn garden rejuvenation

Early frosts

If conditions are cold and clear at night, frost may be on the cards in many areas. Those first frosts are usually a shock for plants and gardeners alike. Frosts occur on cloudless nights when the temperature falls to around 2℃ or less. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and be ready to move or protect frost-sensitive plants.

There’s not much to be done to protect summer flowers and vegetables however so it will be good-bye to dahlias and summer annuals along with tomatoes, zucchini and pumpkin vines. Harvest what’s left and remove dead vines clearing the way for the planting of winter crops. Dahlias and other perennials that have been damaged by frost can be pruned to ground level. In most areas it is safe to leave tubers in the ground over winter but cover them with some extra mulch

Give your plants in pots and the garden regularly applications of Seasol every two weeks throughout autumn to help them cope with the early signs of frost and winter stresses, which are not far away.

Lawn rescue

After a difficult summer, many lawns are desperately in need of some TLC. If there’s been soaking rain and lawns are responding with new growth, give them a feed to encourage strong growth before the winter slowdown arrives. An easy way to do this is using a hose-on lawn food, such as Seasol for Lush Green Lawns hose-on which also delivers much-needed water and helps to improve soil health and structure. Safe on all lawns including buffalo, however for a more specific buffalo product apply Seasol for Buffalo Lawns hose-on.

Areas that are bare or weedy can be cleared, re-seeded or planted with runners (use pieces from the edge of the lawn where the grass is growing vigorously). Don’t walk on newly sown or planted areas. Gently hand weed flat weeds that are getting a toehold in the lawn.

What to do in your garden in mid autumn in April 2024 to harvest summer product and autumn garden rejuvenation

Five important jobs for mid-autumn

  1. Keep buying and planting spring-flowering bulbs that include daffodils, jonquils, tulips, hyacinths, freesias. Your local hardware or garden centre will have some great options for your location or check out online stores that specialise in them.  For more information check out our spring bulb guide.
  2. Plant brassicas such as kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale for lots of fresh and nutritious vegies in winter and early spring. When planting dig in Seasol Plant + Soil Booster to get them off to a flying start.
  3. Check plants growing underneath house eaves – they may be very dry and desperately in need of water. If you find the soil is extremely dry from summer heat, apply Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner to help ensure the water gets to were it’s need – the plant’s root zone.
  4. Confuse pests and attract beneficial insects and bees by planting alyssum, calendula and cornflowers with your veggies. They look great and double as decorative edible blooms. Liquid feed regularly with PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives for brilliant blooms.
  5. Rake up autumn leaves and use as a top dressing for garden beds or add to your compost heap. You can also use a mower to mulch leaves that have fallen onto the lawn.
What to do in your garden in mid autumn in April 2024 to harvest summer product and autumn garden rejuvenation

Making the most of excess tomatoes

Tomatoes, particularly cherry tomatoes are highly productive plants that continue to bear fruit until the weather gets too cold or the plants are killed off by frost.

Green tomatoes can be encouraged to ripen by bringing fruit indoors to the fruit bowl or by removing the entire plant while it is still green and hanging it up in a sheltered spot. Green tomatoes can also be used to make delicious green tomato chutney. If you have an excess of ripe red tomatoes, don’t let them go to waste.

After harvesting the last of the tomatoes remove the plant and put it into the compost or the bin if it’s diseased. Apply homemade compost and organic manure and or Seasol Liquid Compost to help improve soil health and structure. If possible let the soil rest for a couple of weeks before planting.

Try your hand at homemade sauces to help stretch the family budget through the months ahead. If an open pollinated (not hybrid) variety has been particularly flavour filled or bountiful, save seeds to plant in spring.

Seed saving

To save seeds for replanting next spring, collect dry seed pods and carefully shake out or pick out the seeds. Store loose, clean seed in a seed packet or envelop in sealed container in a cool, dry spot. Note the name of the plant and the date the seed was collected.

For seeds in wet fruit such as tomatoes, gently wash the seeds in a small sieve to remove the pulp then dry the seed on a paper towel. Not all seed comes true (that is resembles the original plant). Seed-grown plants from seed harvested in the garden without any control over pollination may produce something new and different, which makes seed saving such an interesting hobby.

What to do in your garden in mid autumn in April 2024 to harvest summer product and autumn garden rejuvenation