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THE 10 COMMANDMENTS FOR A HAPPY AND PERFECT GARDEN IN AUTUMN

1. You shall not prune roses! The early cutting of roses in the autumn months is really a crime against this wonderful plant: one removes reserve substances which the rose could still need. And one prevents the last leaves from continuing to assimilate and create more reserves.

2. You shall not cut back autumn raspberries! The early cutting of autumn raspberries is related to the first sin. The harvest is coming to an end and the gardener already has nothing else to think about other than…work. He/she cuts the autumn raspberries like crazy and removes not only the reserve substances, but also beneficial insects, which could do a good job in the spring for the newly growing canes. In addition, another shelter and retreat is taken from the animals and insects in the garden.

3. Actually, you should not cut anything at all! Yes, I know this commandment is quite brutal and the gardener's life is hard. What should gardeners do now with their creative urges in autumn? There is unfortunately no other option than to canonically put them to an end. There is no need to prune or cut anything in the autumn except if you know you will have a shortage of time in the spring and if there is too much snow at high altitudes. Period.

4. You shall not give in to your inner sense of order, for this is not good. It is not good to clean up everything. It is not good to bring anything to an end before the end has come. The whole romanticism of the autumn garden, which also wants to tell its story, is gone. Shelter and a home for insects and garden animals are gone! And again, there is no time left to enjoy the garden.

5. You shall not fertilise in autumn! Sorry, but that must be said once! My friend Karl Ploberger talked to me yesterday about having a beautiful, wintergreen lawn. But I have no compassion for this (more in the 6th commandment). Fertilising in autumn is a sacrilegious act.

During the winter, any fertiliser is essentially not good for anything and it is swept into the ground water. But what about winter hardiness fertilisation with potash? This is also a malicious rumour from the fertiliser industry, which even organic gardeners fall victim to. The best method for more winter hardiness is to stop the fertilisation early enough, around the longest day; for a few plants fertilisation can also be stopped a little bit later.

6. You shall not want your lawn to be like your neighbour's lawn! Yes, I know, it is already almost a temptation: accurately maintained at all times, beautiful, even in autumn; the grass is as high as it should be, it is deep green, without weeds.

And it is fertilised until autumn, for what it’s worth, and it feels like it’s mowed every three days; and the mowing mistakes are even religiously corrected. But I tell you: do not give in to your neighbour; let him/her do what they want to their lawn, for he/she is a gardening idol. Keep in mind, however, that everything I’ve said about this commandment is valid only if your lawn is not as pretty.

7. You shall not use manure or compost in autumn. It does not really help anything. Because manure and compost are also fertilisers (see the 5th commandment) and because the nutrients are irretrievably washed away during the winter.

In exceptional cases, mounding up frost-susceptible plants with compost may be permitted, but actually normal garden soil works just as well. Manure and compost are supposed to be sacred to us and are used specifically in the spring and early summer, depending on the nutrient requirements of our plants. And anyway: manure should be composted before it is used in the garden.

8. You shall not come to your wife or husband with a new garden project. This is just too early; the year is not over yet. Let the year come to an end, and then, in the spring, when everything has a new beginning, everything is much easier. In the worst case, a surprise attack also works in the spring. In any case, the surprise will soon be forgiven. What is allowed in autumn is the planting of Lubera plants, in particular berry shrubs: they will already bear fruit next year. Every plant beholder ("the garden is already full!") will quickly relent. Sweet fruit and their temptations are hard to resist.

9. Do not force your children to do gardening work in autumn. Yes, I know, there are things to do right outside your front door that are fundamentally inexhaustible, and therefore very pedagogical and disciplinary. But it does not really promote the relationship between the generations when children have to do what they do not understand and for which there is no reason: the lawn really does not have to be cut every week.

And why should one sweep garden paths, if the autumn wind brings new leaves again anyway? Of course, you had to do all this too (me too), but unfortunately that is not enough reason. Gardening is educationally valuable – but in autumn you can relax and calm down, and also tolerate having the football in the garden again. What else can the children do what the autumn winds will not do?

10. You shall not rake or sweep leaves. This is true not only for the children, but also for the head gardeners of the family. Autumn does what it wants. It brings leaves again and again; it breaks boughs, it pulls here and there, and it shines in the most beautiful colours and in perfect bewilderment. Do only what you have to do – and leave everything else! Enjoy the garden when it opens up and when it radiates and shines, and leave it alone…and in peace!

 

Markus Kobelt

 
 
 
 

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