Autumn may portend to the beginning of decay or entail a sense of gloominess in literature but that is not necessarily true for your garden. It is a great time to rejuvenate your plants for the new season. The mild temperatures create perfect growing conditions for cool-season crops. We at The Express Tribune spoke to horticulturalists about how to keep your garden blooming despite the advent of fall.
“Karachi is a little different from other parts of the country, we don’t have the typical autumn season — referred to as ‘fall’ by the Americans — but we do go into the pre-winter climate state,” says Tofiq Pasha Mooraj, a well-known horticulturist from Karachi. “The upcoming month of October is particularly hot so you have to be vigilant when it comes to watering the plants. Always do that early in the morning.”
Seema Khuled, who is based in Lahore, runs a Facebook page on gardening, by the name of Our Gardens, she says, “As the scorching heat of summers change into winters, we have the short autumn season, which is more pronounced in Lahore than in Karachi. The shedding of leaves as you know is a sign that the trees are going in dormancy and during the winter season they will be storing the nutrients in their roots and so that they can come back with full vigour.”
“During autumn, in Lahore, less watering is needed. It’s time to start for the winter flowering plants and winter vegetables as well. Usually end of August and the beginning of September is most suitable for making seedlings from seeds, which later can be transplanted,” she adds.
Khuled says that autumn is the preparation time for most of the flowers and vegetables that are gone during the summers. Those that survive include the perennials, the evergreen small plants and palms, which need fertilizer and water early morning. Flowers, such as marigold, carnations, ranunculus and hyacinths, are sown in this season. She highlights that autumn is the season of herbs. All herbs except for mint and basil, which are heat loving can be sown. Rosemary, oregano, bay-leaf, lemon balm, thyme, coriander and dill parsley are all grown in this time of the year. Summer might be high season in the vegetable garden but autumn also brings wonderful rewards.
Coming back to Karachi, Mooraj says, “This season, we don’t usually plant in Karachi. Best time is either February-March, or July-August. Every planting is not done in October, because these plants can’t deal with the heat. There is nothing that we grow for this season — whatever we plant is for the winter season.”
“In October, we need to be mindful about the heat and dry weather which is dehydrating for the plants. Evening time, if you water your plant, it starts evapourating soon, which is not good for the plant itself,” he adds.
For those who wish to keep their gardens ever-green in autumn, Khuled shares a basic tip for all to follow. She advices gardeners to keep their gardens clean as the fallen leaves give a place to snails and garden pests, which can cause fungus on established plants as well.
Changing weather leads to stress in many new plants, so water them as per need.
“Summers are always tough on the plants, so in autumn, they need some time to relax,” she says. “For me, a complete garden has all the elements flowers, fruits and vegetables along with herbs with some green grass to sit on and enjoy this season,” she concludes.
Vegetables to grow this season
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2014.