10. Things to do in October

Kitchen Garden

  • Continue clearing spent plants and general tidying to prevent pests and diseases.
  • If soil is heavy, dig it over to allow time for weathering over winter to break it down and help improve soil structure.  Add compost, manure and leaf mulch.
  • For late seeded salad and greens beds, a top-dressing of nitrogen rich fertiliser in late winter will promote fresh leaves.
  • Do not compost blight-affected foliage (especially tomato and potato plants).
  • Prune-out fruited canes of blackberries.  Tie in new growth.
  • If you have any late season crops you can apply fleece when frost is forecast.
  • Lift & divide rhubarb.  Replant divisions with two or three buds into soil enriched with lots of rotted manure.
  • Cut down asparagus stems as they turn yellow and mulch the bed with well-rotted manure or garden compost.


Sow Directly

  • Plant sets of overwintering onions.  Onions planted in September will mature next July. 
  • Plant garlic for overwintering.  Break bulbs into individual cloves and plant 1-4 inches (2.5-10 cm) deep.  Space  7 inches (18 cm) apart in soil enriched with well-rotted manure and organic matter.
  • Sow broad beans late in October.
  • If you have an unheated glasshouse, winter salads such as winter lettuce, rocket and land cress can be grown for baby salad leaves.



  • Salad greens.
  • Pumpkins, squash can be harvested before the first frost.  ‘Cure’ in a warm room for 10 days before storing.
  • Lift beetroot and carrots before the first frost.


Flower / Ornamental Garden

  • Keep deadheading late-season bloomers, like dahlia and salvia, to keep them flowering to the first frosts.
  • Prune climbing roses.
  • Herbaceous perennials may be lifted and divided to propagate and rejuvinate.
  • Lift cannas and dahlias once temperatures fall.  Overwinter in a frost-free dry place.  (Some advise doing so with gladioli as well, though our gladioli planted in the back patch come back year after year and have not been lifted since being first planted.)
  • Plant spring bulbs such as tulips into pots.  (Though some advise to wait until November to plant tulip to avoid tulip fire.)
  • Plant daffodil bulbs.
  • Plant pots with winter bedding such as violas for splashes of winter colour.
  • Plant trees and shrubs at the end of September while the soil is still warm.
  • Shrubs can be lifted at the end of September and re-sited elsewhere as required.
  • Keep camellias well watered to ensure good bud formation next spring.



  • Propagate currants, gooseberries and ornamentals such as roses and forsythia from hard-wood cuttings once leaves have fallen.



  • Switch bird feed from protein rich seeds to fat balls to help birds build reserves for migration and/or winter survival.
  • Make sure fresh water is available.
  • If you leave pots to hold water and catch rainwater, ensure there are sticks in the pails so that animals and birds do not fall in and drown.
  • Leave the spent flower stalks of some herbacous perennials and grasses on some plants as these offer hibernation sites for a range of invertebrates.
  • Piles of logs and stones are favourite places for bugs and help boost biodiversity.