Autumn is really setting in now, so use this opportunity to get in the garden in October and get as much done as you can before the weather really turns. There is plenty to do in preparation for the colder weather coming up and, as always, we are here to help you with expert gardening tips and advice.
So, read on to find out the key things to do in your garden in October…
Top tips for what to do in your garden in October
– Use those leaves! Deciduous trees in Britain will really start to change colour and fall in October. All these leaves scattered over your garden need to be removed as they seriously damage plants and lawns by blocking out light, or rotting in water causing ponds to go stagnant. These deciduous trees leaves make a wonderful soil conditioner, so rake them up and pack into loose wire cages made of chicken wire to keep them moist. Alternatively you can wet them thoroughly, pack them into plastic bags (with a few holes in) and tie the tops up. If you pop them somewhere out of sight you’ll find in a year or two they’ll have broken down into a light, crumbly material that will make a perfect soil conditioner.
– Depending on the where you live, and if it’s a chilly October or not, you may need to start thinking about protecting outside salad crops from frosts.
– Do you have a garden pond? You may have covered your pond with a net back in September, but spend some time this month really preparing your pond for winter. Firstly, cut back any dead plant stems and leaves. If any debris or leaves have fallen into the pond, you’ll need to scoop this out – it’s best to try and go as deep in the pond as you can, so you’ll need to roll up your sleeves! Then pop a net back over the pond just above the surface of the water to stop autumn leaves falling in.
– Use your time this month to prepare the ground for planting soft fruit – make sure you select a sunny, well-drained position and dig over the area, using some manure or compost. Also keep your eyes peeled for any blackberries that are still ripe and ready to eat.
– Finish harvesting beans, peas, squashes and pumpkins. And when you harvest your cabbages, leave the root in the ground and make a cut across the stem to encourage smaller leaves to come through.
– If you overwinter tender plants, or plan to raise early seedlings in spring in your greenhouse, then it’s important to install some kind of heating to stop the inside freezing. A quick tip is to fix bubble wrap against the inside of all the greenhouse glass, this will immediately reduce winter heating costs massively. If you plan to install a heater too, then make sure you measure the dimensions of your greenhouse before you go to the shops, as heaters will have a maximum area they will be able to maintain. Paraffin, or, bottled gas heaters are easily portable, cheap and the carbon dioxide given off can benefit plants. But, you will need to ensure you have sufficient ventilation and they’ll need to be checked and refuelled regularly.
– October is the perfect time to pot on any summer early cuttings that have taken well, showing root growth through the base and have healthy top growth. If planting into the ground, the soil is still warm enough to encourage roots to take. And, if potting into a pot one size larger, there is still time for the plants to settle before the temperature really starts to fall.
– Now is a great time to plant a range of perennials that will give you lots of colour to your garden throughout the next year. You might try hellebores for spring, alstroemeria for summer, and Acanthus spinosus for some autumn colour. Space your plants out carefully dependent on how big they will grow and always label them.
– It’s also a good time to plant all types of trees and shrubs, as well as woody climbers. These plants create form and structure in a garden, so it’s important to choose carefully, plant them properly, and then help them to establish well. Before buying, anticipate the eventual height and spread of your desired plant and make sure it will fit the space. Then look at soil requirements, including acidity, does yours measure up? Does the plant need sun or shade and will it survive in the temperatures in your garden? All these things should be considered before buying.
– Before putting your mower into storage for winter, check the blacks and repair/replace anything that is needed. Clean the machine thoroughly and oil moving parts – you’ll be thankful when it comes to getting it out of the shed in spring.
– If you have spare beds in the veg plot, or patches of soil in the herbaceous border, turn them over now to expose the soil to the first frosts. This will help reduce diseases, and the frost will also help improve the soil structure and expose weed seeds before planting new year.
Top idea for this month…
Planting hardy perennials in three simple steps:
1. Water the plant well if it’s in a container. Bare root perennials supplied by nurseries need to soak in a bucket of water for an hour or two. Dig a hole twice the size of the rootball.
2. Add a little fertiliser to the planting hole. Knock the pott off the plant and check for signs of pest and disease on roots; tease roots out gently if they seem stuck.
3. Pop the plant in the hole so the top of the pot compost is level with the top of the planting hole. Backfill with soil, firm gently around the roots, then water in thoroughly.