When autumn is looming, it is time to prepare for the basic work of winter, these annual essentials: pampering your soils, equipping yourself with the right tools, maintaining the vegetable patch, pruning and even stone removal… Treatments that will ensure you a beautiful garden in summer.
Aerate the soil
In the fall, the most important thing is to take care of the soil and aerate it to oxygenate it. You thus prepare it so that it will be more fertile the following spring ... It is the wintering of the garden. To do this, pay particular attention to the choice of techniques: in the current trend of natural gardening, we say goodbye to motorized plowing, too aggressive, and we opt for the spade, the spade fork or even a grelinette, otherwise called biogrif. "With this tool, you keep the soil layers intact, explains Brigitte Lapouge, gardener-landscaper and author of Organic gardening guide . Because it is in the 5 to 6 cm of the upper soil that life is made under the plant and this is what is precious to keep ". The spade is used on light and not very sticky soils, to easily turn over the the upper layers of the soil. The spade fork allows it to aerate and decompact the clods; however, it is rather used on clayey and stony soils. In the same style, the biogrif aerates the soil without turning it over so as not to disturb the microorganisms that live there. It is always a question of making the soil more fertile for plants. This action also makes it possible to remove the weeds that we will put in the compost. "We can elsewhere repeat this operation in the spring, advises landscaper Pierre-Alexandre Risser, especially if you put a mulch on it in the fall; give a light scratching stroke by making Z like Zorro and scrape without mixing the layers to preserve the richness of the earth ". It is then a question of finding a flexible and easy to work soil to prepare for spring.
Don't leave the earth bare
What is the difference between the soils of a forest and those of city gardens? The former are always rich and improve over time, while the latter are getting poorer from year to year. Let us take model on the wild nature and do not leave the ground of our bare and fragile garden in winter. If the beds are full of perennial plants, from the beginning of autumn, cover the earth with a mulch of organic matter (miscanthus straw for example), local and raw compost - you will find it in a recycling center where green waste are now collected around cities. Another advantage of this method: earthworms will feed on it all winter and will pass from the soil to organic matter, so no need to pass the hoe! The worms do all the aeration work on the soil and digging is no longer compulsory. "Today we must fight against the idea of an ultra-clean garden, militates Pierre-Alexandre Risser. In my opinion, the leaves in a massif, that's good! I would even advise to push the leaves fallen from the trees in the massifs, if of course they are healthy (observe the traces of possible fungi). Otherwise, I like this alternative: the buckwheat pods which are very aesthetic, durable, and which do not fly away ".
Prepare the vegetable patch
In the vegetable patch, we also use biogrif, as well as the gardening hook: a tool that looks like a spade fork but with curved teeth to better penetrate the ground. It allows raking and weeding at the same time. The vegetable garden requires constant attention so it is a task to be performed regularly between the aisles. You can then bring a fertilizer, always necessary to the vegetable garden to give back to the earth at least the equivalent of what was taken away from it during the summer ... "You can spread your own compost or a compost bought of good quality especially, stresses Brigitte Lapouge This is of the utmost importance… Don't skimp on the price, and be careful with the name of the products found in stores, you have to differentiate between compost soil and amendment… look for the word 'Compost' "And at the end of winter, you can add dry manure and then loosen the soil throughout the garden. Use the pickaxe for the most physical work, for earthworks and the preparation of very hard soils."
Start planting or ... watch the phacelia grow?
2 choices are possible: - Either you have something to do right away in the garden and you start planting, applying suitable fertilizers and continuing to slightly scratch the soil to bury it a little. - Either you wait until winter passes without doing anything: in this case you can simply sow green manure, in the vegetable patch as in the ornamental garden. We always come back to the basics: don't leave the earth bare! You can also sow the phacelia which will suffocate the weeds and naturally nourish the soil: tranquility guaranteed! In addition, phacelia is easily torn off by hand in spring to go to compost: a double advantage.
Zoom on the roses
The roses need great attention from the gardener, all year round, to obtain a beautiful fragrant flowering in summer. Do not forget that they maintain themselves as a gourmet vegetable, so do not hesitate to give them enough compost, organic fertilizer even in winter, and continue to feed them again in June after the first flowering, to stimulate the flowers until autumn.
Prune (hedges, shrubs, lawns, etc.)
The other important element for background work is the cutting tools. Equip yourself with the essentials: a pruning shears to cut the twigs of shrubs, or even a rack pruning shears and rotating handle (allowing to reduce the effort by reproducing the natural movement of the hand), and a branch cutter which is the pruner relay with a larger diameter. For precise cuts, a hedge shears and a lawn shears for borders. "In winter, explains Pierre-Alexandre Risser, I leave the plants to rest because by pruning, we awaken the garden. It is better to wait until the temperatures are favorable for the healing of the plant after pruning, that is to say 8 ° C. The first prunings are therefore made from June-July. As for fruit trees, those with pips are pruned in winter and those with stone pruned when they are in leaves. It also depends on the region and the climate. " .
Stone removal ... or not?
Stone removal can be necessary if you are at the very beginning of the arrangement of your garden, and if really it is polluted with really too many stones. Remove part of it to aerate the soil. However, stone removal does not have much interest each year. Stony soils even have an advantage: they are well drained, for sustainable planting. Stone removal would even be an endless task since the stones rise as watering and rains progress… They also represent a good mulch which retains moisture and prevents soil compaction (mineral mulches even exist for sale, as the pozzolan). If your garden is particularly stony, plant rather species which adapt to this specificity, plants for dry garden - which does not necessarily mean Mediterranean plants, fragile and frosty. For example, choose minor Asian sage instead of South American sage. Also recommended are yarrow, valerian, oregano, fragrant plants ...
Maintain the tools
Finally, the maintenance of your tools can be a basic of your winters. The most recent products, in stainless steel, aluminum or fiberglass, are both beautiful and durable. They support outdoor storage without alteration over the years. Your other essentials: rakes and leaf brooms, which will be very active in autumn so that the garden is clean, and all the tools with teeth like the grelinette, the claw and a small hoe, even a spade. You can also equip yourself with an XL broom with a raking range of up to 65 cm. However, don't buy tools that are oversized for your garden and your strengths. For example, a grelinette with 3 teeth is enough, a 6 teeth is not compulsory: the garden must remain a pleasant leisure!
To read : - The Guide to Organic Gardening , Terre Vivante editions. A very complete work on the vegetable patch, the orchard and the ornamental garden, a guide who will accompany you for many years. Thanks : - Camille Bennetton de Fiskars, - Pierre-Alexandre Risser, Horticulture & Gardens landscaper, - Brigitte Lapouge, gardener and author.