Ruud Kleinpaste (the Bugman): Contrary to popular opinion, this time of the year is fantastic for the preventative garden jobs that make your spring and summer such a brilliant season. There’s plenty to do and it all makes so much sense.
Had an infestation of Passionvine hoppers (and ﬂuffybums) last summer? Well, all their eggs are overwintering – right now – in their millions in your garden. All you need to know is what they look like, then hunt them down, cut them out and burn them in the ﬁreplace.
If you look at the tendrils of climbing plants (or any thin, woody twiggy stalks) you’ll notice regularly placed ﬂuffy extrusions; each one represents an egg-laying site for passionvine hoppers. Get rid of them all and you’ll start the season with millions fewer ﬂuffybums.
Snails and slugs a hassle? Go out on a dewy winter night with a headlight and collect as many of them in a jar or bucket. Then dispose of them as you see ﬁt... Of course, winter time is when molluscs are most numerous, so baiting them is a timely exercise – I use a partially buried container with slug bait, so that it stays dry and the rotters die out of reach of thrushes and other non-target species.
Dispose of the old fungal spore-infested leaves under roses and other ornamentals; it'll prevent re-infestation in spring. If you go around with a copper/sulphur fungus spray for winter, don’t forget to dose the soil around the plants as well.
Oh – and noticed how Mother Nature deposited all those masses of autumn eaves around the place? This is not "waste", but a resource to gardeners! You see, when the earth is covered by those leaves for winter it allows little bugs to recycle them into fabulous humus for the soil; better structure, better moisture retention in dry summer months and, potentially, a much better soil fertility.
So... get a rake and get on with it!