10. .. October

The UN’s World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated on the second Saturday of October, annually.

The UK’s Royal Society of Biology celebrates ‘Biology Week‘ in early October.  For 2020 the dates are 3-11 October.

The Garden Museum (Lambeth, London) hosts a ‘Houseplant Festival’ from 23-25 October 2020.  The 2020 celebration marks the 2nd year of this focus on indoor gardening.

Kitchen Garden

  • Continue clearing spent plants and carrying out general tidying to prevent pests and disease.
  • Do not compost blight-affected foliage (especially tomato & potato plants, as well as rose leaf with black spot).
  • Remove stakes from the garden as these can harbour over-wintering pests.
  • 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 & greens beds, a top-dressing of nitrogen rich fertiliser in late winter will promote fresh leaves.
  • If you have any late season crops, you can apply fleece when frost is forecast.
  • Prune-out fruited canes of blackberries.  Tie-in new growth.
  • Lift & divide rhubarb.  Replant divisions with 2 or 3 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.
  • Apply sticky grease bands to fruit trees to protect against winter moth damage.

 

Sow Directly

  • Plant sets of overwintering onions and shallots.  Onions planted in late September and early October will mature by next July.
  • Plant garlic for overwintering for early spring crops.  Break bulbs into individual cloves and plant 1-4 inches (2.5-10 cm) deep (deeper for lighter soil, higher in heavy soils).  Space 4-5 inches (18 cm) apart in soil enriched with well-rotted manure and organic matter.
  • Sow broad beans late in October for early spring (April/May) cropping.  A hardy cultivar is ‘Aquadulce Claudia.’
  • Plant out spring cabbage 6 inches apart – net against pigeons.
  • If you have a cold frame or unheated glasshouse, winter salads such as winter lettuce, rocket and land cress can be grown for baby salad leaves.  These can also be in the garden plots, under fleece protection.
  • Sow green manures such as winter field bean into plots that would otherwise be left empty of winter – this helps promote good soil structure and helps reduce weeds.

 

Harvest

  • Salad greens.
  • Harvest pumpkin & squash before the first frost.  ‘Cure’ in a warm room for 10 days before storing.
  • Lift beetroot and carrots before the first frost. (**Parsnip and swedes can be left in the ground past frosts, which is said to sweeten them.)

 

Flower / Ornamental Garden

  • Deadhead late-season bloomers, like dahliasalvia, to keep them flowering to the first frosts.
  • Mulch borders with well-rotted organic compost and manure.
  • Prune climbing roses.
  • Herbaceous perennials: Continue dividing and replanting.  Collect ripe seeds once dry and brown.  Air dry and store in envelopes.
  • 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 daffodil into pots and into the garden.  (*some advise to wait until November to plant tulips to avoid tulip fire.)
  • 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 camellia well watered to ensure good bud formation next spring.
  • Protect pots and containers from winter cold and wet by putting into sheltered positions.  Remove saucers placed under pots in the summer and raise containers off the ground to prevent it becoming too wet over winter.

 

Cuttings

  • Take hard-wood cuttings:  Propagate currants, gooseberries and ornamentals such as roses and forsythia from hard-wood cuttings once leaves have fallen.   Hardwood cuttings can be taken from October to December.  Insert into slit trenches or pots of gritty compost.
  • Take root cuttings from late autumn, to be placed in a cold frame.
  • Pot-on late-summer cuttings into 3 1/2 inch (9cm) pots of a well-drained growing medium.

 

Wildlife

  • 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 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 herbaceous perennials and grasses on some plants as these offer hibernation sites for a range of invertebrates.  Echinacea are good for this.
  • Leave mature ivy unpruned as a late source of pollen.
  • Piles of logs and stones are favourite places for bugs and help boost biodiversity.
  • If you have a meadow area, sow yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor), which helps suppress grass species.