Gardening jobs for October
The trees are changing colour. The leaves are all over the lawn. October’s a stunner of a month, with a host of gardening jobs to keep you busy.
In the garden
Keep planting bulbs
Now is prime bulb-planting time for daffodils, tulips, crocus… basically most spring-flowering bulbs. Bulbs are perfect for pots and borders. Maybe even give a bulb lasagne a go! When planting bulbs just remember to plant at a depth of about two to three times the diameter of the bulb.
Protect tender plants
Start thinking about protecting tender plants from the cold weather. If you’ve got tender plants in pots, move them to a more sheltered spot, beside the wall of the house, or under the shelter of a porch. Some plants might even need to go indoors - a conservatory or cool room is best for overwintering any tender plants.
If you’ve got tender plants in the garden, dig up them up, pot them up and move them undercover for the winter. A greenhouse is ideal or, in particularly frost-prone parts of the country, a conservatory might be the snugger option. Canna tubers can be lifted with a fork, dried off and stored in a cool, dark place until spring. Tender trees such as bananas and tree ferns should be bundled up - mummy-like - in straw, fleece or bubble wrap to keep the frost at bay.
Raise your patio pots
Remove the saucers from under patio planters and lift them off the ground with pot feet to stop them from getting waterlogged as wetter weather sets in. Bricks or tiles can be used as alternatives if you don’t have enough.
Empty summer containers
Cut back spent flowers in summer pots, planters, window boxes and hanging baskets. You can either compost the lot, lift bulbs to store and use again or move the containers out of sight until they start to bloom beautifully next year. If you haven’t already planted bedding plants like cyclamen for autumn colour, you could do that now to reinvigorate any empty vessels.
Deal with autumn leaves
Raking can seem like a full-time job at this point in the year. But there’s so much potential for leaf mould that we can’t stop, won’t stop. Either add the leaves to your compost heap or put them in a special pile all of their own. Once they’ve rotted down, use the leaf mould as potting compost or mulch your flower beds with it to give your plants a proper treat.
On the allotment
Harvest your Halloween haul
Spooky season is officially upon us. Cut your pumpkins and squash loose and use them to decorate the house for the holidays, before turning them into delicious soups, stews and pies. If yours are taking a while to ripen, raise them on tiles or bricks to keep them off the damp ground and let the sun cure their skins before the 31st.
Sow broad beans and peas
Get those pulses racing. Crack open some seed packets and get your peas and broad beans in the ground. Overwintering them will see you enjoying an early spring harvest and, at the point when you’ll rip out the plants, you’ll be ready to sow something new in the space left behind.
Show the soil some love
Once you’ve cleared your veg patch of any plants that have gone over, take a minute to improve the soil. Spread a 5cm layer of well-rotted manure or compost on top to suppress the weeds and nourish the earth before spring. Or you could sow a green manure like phacelia over your empty beds and let it grow over winter; then, dig it into the soil in the new year to add nutrients to the ground.
Stake your sprouts
Don’t let your Christmas dinner become a flop. Add some stakes and tie your brussel sprout plants up to stop those little green baubles of joy from turning the whole thing top-heavy.
Expand your rhubarb patch or clear an overcrowded bed by dividing established plants. Spade at the ready, lift each crown and chop it into a few sections. Make sure each bit still has a growing point and some of the rhizome (aka the big root). Replant each one and water it in well to help it find its feet after you’ve given it a beating.