Jobs in the garden in October include:
- Tidy garden ready for winter: weed and sweep paths and remove overhanging branches of shrubs which will prevent you having to brush past wet plants as you use paths during the wetter months of the year. And it will make the garden look tidier as you view it from the house.
- Lift, divide and replant summer flowering perennial plants that have got a bit large for their space – or you feel are in the wrong place. Division is the easiest and cheapest way of making new plants and it is good to do this while the soil is still warm.
- Collect fallen leaves and leaves and store them in sacks (plastic with holes in) or in a simply constructed bin (four posts and a wire surround) for a year or 2 and you will be rewarded with leaf mould to use in the garden. Mixing grass mowings with the leaves balances the green and brown ingredients and speeds up decomposition so results are faster.
- As the leaves fall prune gooseberries and red and white currants. Use trimmings as hardwood cuttings to increase the number of plants. Now is also the time to take hardwood cuttings of many ornamental shrubs such as Philadelphus and Weigelia. Keep the cuttings free from weeds and water if dry in the spring and summer and your new shrubs could be ready to move to a permanent site or potted up in a year to eighteen months. Ripewood cuttings of evergreen shrubs can also be taken at this time of year. Examples include Escallonia and Hebes – both of which can be lost in hard winters so cuttings protected in a cold frame could be a good idea to ensure the survival of favourite plants.
- Protect tender plants; perennials such as salivas and pelargoniums should be brought under cover and tender tubers such as dahlias lifted as soon as the first frosts wilt the foliage.
- In the greenhouse, untie tomato plants and lay them horizontally so that the last tomatoes ripen more quickly. Now is a good time to clear out the greenhouse – cleaning the windows and sweeping the floor – ready for springtime and seed sowing and replanting.
- In the vegetable garden tidy all vegetable debris that could harbour pests including the dead and dying lower leaves of brassica plants such as Broccoli, Brussels Sprout and Kale. Earthing up the roots of Brassicas will make the plants more secure in winter winds. And ensure they are protected against possible pigeon damage – with either netting or bird scarers.
- Cut down the asparagus ferns when they are dry and brown/yellow. Now is also the time to prepare a new asparagus bed – incorporating as much bulky organic matter as possible. Cover the bed once it is prepared to prevent leeching of nutrients by winter rain,. Asparagus crowns are available in spring and should be planted as soon as purchased or delivered so that they don’t dry out.
- Harvest squash and pumpkins. They will store for longer if they are cut either side of where the stem joins the main branch.
- And if you haven’t already done so then order or buy bulbs for autumn planting. The sooner the better for Narcissi and Alliums, but Tulips can wait to be planted for a month or so.