Your Garden in October
YOUR GARDEN IN OCTOBER
The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and a time for some practical jobs in the garden
When summer comes to an end, you need something good to replace it, and autumn fits that bill perfectly. The dazzling displays in your flower borders may be over but the beautiful colours of autumn are a more than adequate consolation, and they're everywhere you look. Take time to enjoy the turning leaves on the trees as you drive or walk around.
Your garden is winding down now but there are still some routine jobs you should be doing to prepare for the months ahead. And, you might find yourself swapping the trowel and hoe for paint brush or bucket of soapy water, as some of the more practical gardening jobs start demanding your attention.
Let's start with your beds and borders though. Lift any Dahlia tubers, Begonia tubers and Gladiolus corms to store over the winter months, removing foliage and soil before drying and storing. Cut back late-flowering perennials, lifting and dividing any that are overcrowded whilst the soil is still warm.
After tidying your borders, add a layer of mulch to help insulate plant roots for the winter, keep weeds in check and improve soil structure. You can use bark chips, well-rotted manure, leaf mould or your own home-made compost. Apply it in the spaces between plants and around the base of shrubs and trees, leaving a gap around the stems. Aim for a layer of about 8cm to 10cm, if possible, as this will really help to supress weeds.
Summer containers will be past their best by now and should be replanted. Miniature conifers teamed with plants like Cyclamen and Pansies work really well, as do evergreens with berries, such as Skimmia. Berried plants are also ideal for adding some extra colour to your garden at this time of year; the bright yellows, oranges and reds of Pyracantha, for example, can really brighten up an autumn corner.
You've probably already planted your daffodils but tulip bulbs can be planted now, and October is also an ideal month to plant Clematis, so if you have a wall or fence crying out for decoration, you know what to do! If you feel your garden is lacking colour, then I would suggest some heathers (Calluna vulgaris), perfect for adding splashes of brightness and very easy to grow.
October is a good month to clean and disinfect your greenhouse and remove any shading. This will prevent pests and diseases from over-wintering and the clean, bare windows will let in more light. Check the tender plants you are bringing in for pests and leave plenty of space between them, so they're well ventilated and the risk of disease is reduced.
If you don't have a water butt, install one now to collect all the autumn and winter rain. If you do have one, install another if you have room. You'll be glad you did if we have another long, dry summer like this year. If you have time, sheds and fences can be painted to help protect them in the winter months.
OCTOBER ON THE VEG PLOT
Whether you have an allotment, a veggie patch in your garden or just a few containers for growing your own, Ruth McNamee from our Plant Area can guide you through the edible gardening year.
October is a great month to get your permanent planting done. Time to establish your fruit and asparagus beds while the soil is still warm from the summer heat.
It's a good time to plant out fruit trees. Most garden centres will have a new delivery of trees to choose from. Pick a sunny sheltered spot in your garden and dig a planting hole twice the size of the pot. Give the tree a good soak, then place into the hole keeping the soil levels the same. Back fill and firm in, watering well. If you have limited space, there are also fruit trees perfect for growing in a pot on the patio, so you don't need to miss out on autumn fruit.
Rhubarb and asparagus crowns will also now be available. Prepare the beds by removing all weeds, these crops will be in these beds for many years so give them a good start. Sow winter lettuce too.
If you still have tomatoes in the greenhouse that are refusing to ripen, place a ripe banana alongside them. This should help as the banana releases gasses that aid the process.
https://www.bartongrange.co.uk/plants-and-gardening/gardening-advice/ Thanks to WILL
More specific Gardening Jobs for October
In the flower garden
Plant out any perennials or biennials you've grown from seed this year.
Plant spring bedding such as wallflowers, Bellis, Primulas and winter pansies for a fantastic spring display.
If your summer containers are looking past their best, re-plant them with fresh winter bedding plants. For winter plant ideas take a look at our 'How to plant up hanging baskets, flower pouches and containers' article.
Autumn is the ideal time to plant Clematis plants.
This month is an ideal time to move trees and shrubs, and plant hedges.
Hardwood cuttings can be taken now from deciduous shrubs
Prune climbing roses and rambling roses once they've finished flowering and tie in the stems before autumn winds cause damage.
Clear up fallen rose leaves to prevent diseases such as black spot from over-wintering - don't compost the leaves.
Clear overhanging plants away from pathways to maintain access routes throughout the garden.
Cut back perennial plants that have died down or alternatively leave the dead foliage in place for over-wintering wildlife.
In the vegetable garden
Finish harvesting beans and peas. When beans and peas finish cropping simply cut the plant away at ground level, leaving the roots in the soil. These crops fix nitrogen which is slowly released into the soil as the roots break down.
If you plan to grow beans next year, start preparing the site by digging trenches and filling with manure or kitchen waste.
When you harvest your cabbages, leave the root in the ground and make a cut across the stem to encourage a flush of smaller leaves.
Any plants with green tomatoes or peppers remaining can be hung upside down indoors to ripen.
Continue to plant autumn garlic bulbs now for a bumper crop next summer.
Plant autumn onion setsfor cropping next summer.
Now is an ideal time to invest in mushroom kits.
Reuse old grow bags by cutting away the top and sowing late salad crops. Cropping can be extended into winter if grown under glass, cloches or polytunnels.
In the fruit garden
Move citrus trees indoors to a bright, frost free position (4-12°C) away from cold draughts and radiators. Reduce watering in winter but do not let the plant dry out completely.
Autumn is an ideal time to plant many varieties of fruit trees. See our extensive range of fruit trees online and get ready to enjoy delicious fresh fruit straight from your garden or allotment.
Remove any diseased fruits from branches or the ground as they may spread infections to next year's crops.
Wrap glue bands around the trunks of apple trees to trap winter moth females whose caterpillars shred spring flowers.
Remove the netting from fruit cages to allow birds to catch and eat any pests that are lurking there.
Apply a winter wash to the trunks and branches of fruit trees to kill off overwintering pests.
In the greenhouse
• If your greenhouse is fairly empty, now is a good time to clean and disinfect it. This allows more light in and prevents pests and diseases over-wintering.
• If you haven't done so already, remove any greenhouse shading to allow as much light in as possible.
• Move tender plants into the greenhouse to protect them from early frosts. Make sure that there is enough space between them to keep them well ventilated and reduce the risk of disease.
• Check any plants which you are bringing inside for pests such as aphids.
• Continue to remove any fallen or dead plant material to keep the growing area free of fungal diseases.
• Set up your greenhouse heater in case of early frosts.
Looking after your lawn
• Clear up fallen leaves regularly to allow light to the grass.
• A last mowing can be made this month before leaving your lawn for the winter.
• Recut any lawn edges if needed. Try installing lawn edging to make future maintenance easier.
• Finish off essential lawn maintenance to avoid waterlogging and compaction over winter. Try aerating your lawn with a garden fork, raking thatch from the surface and repairing dead patches.
• Fresh turf can still be laid now. Autumn rains should ensure the turf settles successfully.
Other jobs about the garden
Create compost bins for collecting fallen leaves and dead plant material.
Collect leaves up for making leaf mould as a soil conditioner. Oak, Alder and Hornbeam will rot down in a year but beech, sycamore, horse chestnut and sweet chestnut will take a couple of years to compost.
Sweep up debris and fallen leaves that harbour overwintering fungal spores and hiding places for slugs and snails.
Start preparing a bonfire with twigs and prunings - cover them with plastic so they remain dry for better burning later. (Make sure you check for hedgehogs before lighting your bonfire)
Clean out water butts and let the autumn rains refill them. Install a new waterbutt ready for next year.
If the soil is dry, give your garden one last good watering before the ground freezes.
Build a cold frame to protect young plants from extreme winter weather.
Check stored onions and garlic and remove any rotting bulbs immediately. The neck of the bulb is usually the first area to rot. Try using onion bags to improve air flow.
Check stored potatoes and remove any that are rotting. Use Hessian sacks to store your potatoes as this will allow the crop to breathe.
Make time to give evergreen hedges a final trim before the bad weather sets in, so they look neat and tidy for the winter.
Once plants are dormant, it is a good time to lift and relocate any plant that you want to move.
Raise pots off the ground for the winter by using bricks or 'pot feet', to prevent waterlogging.
(more info at https://www.thompson-morgan.com/what-to-do-in-the-garden-in-october)