Our days have remained hot, 27 degrees Celsius on the day I started writing this, but our nights are starting to cool. The mornings greet us with crisp air signifying the change from summer to autumn, and you can feel the shift of seasons happening each day. We have a few weeks of official summer left, but my plants know their warm days are numbered.
I have noticed the changing of the guard in the garden. Summer plants are starting to die back, their leaves yellowing, and flowers are dropping. Some trees have started the shed their leaves, and my autumn and winter plants are beginning to make their move. New leaves are growing from plants that prefer lower temperatures, and fresh autumnal flowers are starting to show.
Most years, I have been too busy to notice, too busy completing tasks or wishing the summer would last longer. I have tried to be more observant, present, and mindful this year. To hear the change in bird songs and the different insects which frequent my garden. Gardening is a process which requires time. Mistakes one year can take a year to fix, so being more present means I will have a better chance to resolve any issues when I have the opportunity next year. The adage, more haste, less speed, feels very apt. By slowing down just a little, I will become a better gardener.
I have noticed how summer plants reached their potential and now die back, but new growth from autumn flowers, like the cosmos, is starting its time in the limelight. Being more observant is helping me design how my garden looks in one season and how it changes from season to season. The transition period can be just as interesting as the height of summer, if not more so.
The hot summer has not been kind to my garden. We have had months of no rainfall. The grass is slow to recover and still sun-scorched, there have been fewer insects around to pollinate my produce, and it has taken a toll on me, making it unbearable to work in the garden sometimes. I hope next year will be better, and I will need to find a way to make my garden an insect paradise. A pond of some description may be a good addition, more areas of dense shade to provide insects shelter from the heat, and more plants that are loved by pollinators. I even contemplate bringing honey bees into my garden using a Flow Hive.
So as the nights draw in, I find myself retreating to my house and workshop. Preparing myself for the winter months. I still have work to do. I need to build a bigger coop for the chickens, debris from the veg patch will need to be composted, and my garden tools need to be maintained. I still want to grow my own fresh produce over winter and have set up a growing space in my workshop with grow lights. Energy prices may not make it a worthwhile financial decision, but homegrown food is just too tasty.
I used to feel sad at this time of year. Another year has gone, and many missed opportunities. A year older and a few new aches and pains. This year feels different. I am happily cleaning my veg patch and hanging up my tools as I look forward to next year and all the things it will bring. I have managed to get a lot done. My garden infrastructure has matured so I can focus on growing next year and worry less about fencing and storage.
If you are new to gardening and veg growing, now is the time to start planning and thinking about where you will place your flower and vegetable patch. It’s an excellent time to start thinking about what you want to grow next year and even ordering some seeds and the pots and tools you will need. Whilst the sowing season feels far away, it will be here quicker than we realise, and timing is essential to a successful garden.