10. .. October

Kitchen Garden

  • Continue clearing spent plants and carrying out general tidying to prevent pests and disease.
  • 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.
  • Do not compost blight-affected foliage (especially tomato & 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 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.
  • Remove stakes from the garden as these can harbour over-wintering pests.

 

Sow Directly

  • Plant sets of overwintering onions.  Onions planted in September will mature 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.
  • Plant onion sets.
  • 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.

 

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 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 & manure.
  • Prune climbing roses.
  • Herbaceous perennials: Continue dividing & 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 tulips into pots.  (*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 camellia well watered to ensure good bud formation next spring.

 

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.