October Gardening Tips
How on earth is it mid October? September seemed to disappear in a flash.
Autumn brings dew-dropped mornings and a nip in the air, shorter days with a sprinkling of brilliant crisp sunny blue skies. It is one of my favourite times of the year. We see the garden slowing down and some plants running out of steam whereas others are still flying full steam ahead.
So what can we do to keep the blooms blooming, wildlife happy and still attempt to have the garden under some sort of control?
Many plants are still flowering in full force in October but cut back any rotten material that is really past it.
Seed heads look beautiful on frosty mornings and provide a perfect home for little critters so if possible leave the spent flowers heads which are still intact and not rotten. You will be doing your bit for the local wildlife and you might get some atmospheric seed head photos too..
Continue deadheading dahlias and weeding. Try and eek out the colour for as long as possible.
Divide herbaceous perennials. Perfect way to increase your plant stocks for free and inject a new lease of life to old plants. It is also a good opportunity to check any potted herbaceous perennials for over wintering vine weevil or chafer beetle larvae and refresh compost.
Hosta's benefit from being divided every three years. Chop all the old leaves off, remove from pot, check for any unwanted visitors in the soil, divide, shake off as much old soil as possible and refresh with new compost. Once repotted cover with a mulch, perhaps wood chippings, this will act as a blanket and help protect the plant through the cold winter months.
Harvest apples, pears, pumpkins, squash, cabbage, chillis, nuts and grapes.
Make the most of your crops by storing well, whether that is keeping your crops in a cool, dry, frost-free shed or transform your produce into jams, pickles and cakes.
Collect seeds from your faded blooms. Seed heads weave beautifully throughout the borders now and do add an autumnal charm as well as being particularly beneficial to wildlife. Direct sow hardy annuals or dry and store seed in an envelope so any moisture is absorbed in the paper and not left to condensate in a plastic bag and rot. Save and sow next year.
Plant bedding such as bellis, primulas, wallflowers and winter pansies.
Plant bulbs such as narcissi, alliums, snowdrops, anemone blanda, bluebells and crocus.
Plant bulbs in pots so you have the flexibility to move them around. Also layer bulbs ‘lasagne planting’ to have different plants flowering throughout season i.e. crocus, narcissi, tulips, alliums. As one flower ends another blooms – succession planting.
Plant autumn garlic bulbs and onion sets.
Ideal time to move / plant trees and shrubs whilst soil is still warm.
Plant fruit trees.
Be mindful of wildlife whilst you are digging, weeding and moving plants. There are still so many active creatures in the soil and undergrowth. You never who may pop out to join you gardening!
Prune 'old' summer fruiting raspberry canes leaving the new canes for next year's crop.
Prune black and red currants. Remember blackcurrants fruit on young wood and red currants fruit on older wood 2-3 years old.
Prune climbing and rambling roses once they have finished flowering.
Time to move tender plants such as Canna and Pelargoniums, inside for protection; greenhouse, conservatory or a windowsill will do for small plants. With occasional watering they should survive the winter and provide colour for 2021 displays. when temperatures rise again.
Protect tree ferns (Dicksonia and Cyathea) from late October from the frost. Fold the fronds over the crown and wrap in fleece, straw or bubble wrap until spring when the fronds recommence growing.
Divide rhubarb crowns.
Cut back over hanging plants to keep pathways accessible.
Cut back flowered oregano /marjoram to just above ground level.
Sow winter herbs, veg and salad.
Clear up fallen leaves to prevent over-wintering diseases such as black spot.
Net ponds to prevent leaves falling into them. Clear over zealous pond weed.
Mow / aerate / feed lawns and trim evergreen hedges before the temperatures drop.
Force hyacinths bulbs and pot up hippeastrum (amaryllis) so they flower for Christmas.
Resist cutting back ivy, the flowers provide pollen/nectar/berries for insects and birds in winter. This time of year can really see ivy become a pollinator party venue!
Once borders have been cleared and prepped mulch with well rotten manure, bark chips, spent mushroom compost or leaf mould to enrich soil, suppress weeds and insulate plant roots from frost.
Although October is well underway, the garden is still flourishing with a late second flush. Wonderful to see so much vibrant colour. Long may it last!
Happy gardening all!
All photos taken by Debi Holland © 2020