Garden tips for October
By October the garden is beginning to look autumnal and it certainly feels cooler but it’s still a busy month harvesting and storing produce.
Lift Dahlia tubers, Begonia tubers and Gladioli corms to store in a dry place during the winter months. Ensure that the dead foliage is removed before storing them.
Continue to plant spring-flowering daffodil, tulip and Allium bulbs for a colourful spring display. Plant in borders or naturalise them in grass.
Winter hanging baskets and window boxes can be planted now. Use pansies, heathers, primroses, dwarf conifers and dwarf hebes for a colourful display.
Cut back perennial plants that have died down or you can leave the dead foliage in place for over-wintering wildlife.
October is a good time to plant new herbaceous perennials, the soil is still warm, but has more moisture than in the summer.
Plant hardy spring-bedding plants such as wallflowers, primulas and forget-me-nots into prepared beds or pots.
October is also an ideal time for moving and planting trees, shrubs and climbers, as well as for hedge planting.
After tidying borders, mulch with bark chips, well-rotted manure or leaf mould to insulate plant roots for the winter and to also minimise weed growth.
If not already done trim deciduous hedges to keep them looking tidy over the winter.
Shrubs normally pruned hard in the spring can be cut back by half now, to prevent wind rock and to neaten their appearance.
If the weather is dry, keep watering early-flowering shrubs such as camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas, so that flower buds are initiated successfully for next spring’s blooms. Use recycled or stored rainwater wherever possible.
In the vegetable garden
Keep weeds in check with established crops. If you’ve got Brussels sprouts check that they’re firm in the ground to prevent damage by wind-rock.
Lift main crop potatoes by the middle of the month. Dig them up carefully, lay them out to dry, and store them in bags in a cold, dark, frost-free place.
Lift herbs for winter use.
Finish lifting root crops.
Plant out spring cabbage on firm soil.
Plant new rhubarb crowns and lift and divide old ones.
There is still time to plant garlic, shallots and over-wintering onion sets in the garden in October to provide an early crop next summer.
In the fruit garden
Continue harvesting apples and pears as they ripen. Surplus fruit can be stored in open sided crates so that the fruits are not touching. Put in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place.
Prune fruit trees, remove any upward growing shoots to retain the tree’s original frame. Also remove any dead wood.
Grease bands should be applied to fruit trees without delay, as many of the pests the bands are designed to catch will already be leaving the trees.
New trees, bushes and canes should be planted out before the weather is too cold or wet.
In the greenhouse
Clear away tomato, pepper and aubergine plants as they finish cropping.
Ripen squashes and pumpkins on greenhouse shelves.
Sweet peas can be sown early, in the glasshouse, for next spring.
Remove any shading paint applied earlier in the season, in order to maximise reducing light levels late in the season.
Ventilate greenhouses and conservatories during the remaining warmer days, but reduce ventilation once cooler, gusty autumn weather sets in.
Wildlife and ponds
Top up bird feeders and put out food on the ground and bird tables. All feeds, including peanuts, are safe, as the breeding season is now over.
Continue to place nets over small ponds to prevent autumn leaves falling in.
Remove tender water plants and any dying foliage from your pond.
When raking up leaves keep a pile to one side, they’ll make an ideal hibernation spot for wildlife – but remember not to disturb it until the ground thaws in spring!
Looking after your lawn
Scarifying now it will get rid of the old dead grass, moss and rubbish that has collected there during the summer. To keep your lawn in top condition it needs to be removed again in the spring.
Any moss that you remove whilst scarifying can be stored somewhere dry until the spring to use for lining hanging baskets.
Spiking done at this time of year will correct any compaction in the surface so that water can drain away properly and air can circulate right down to the roots. Apply a low nitrogen fertilizer dressing, to strengthen the grass for the winter.