Jobs for the garden during October
1) Autumn colours are almost always at their best for the next six weeks, and the relatively drySeptember and the colder nights will continue to develop the colours. For one of the best displays visit the Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire, Dunham Massey in Cheshire,
Gibside in Tyne and Wear, and Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey. Most trees which carry the strongest colour are not native to the UK, most are from North America and Asia, but they have
added so much to our landscape over the last 400 years.
2) Frosts will become common from now on, it is wise to lift any plants from the border which are tender and place in a frost-free room or glasshouse. Overwinter cuttings from them on a windowsill!
3) Whilst it is still reasonably light in the evening, make a start on the winter digging, especially on heavy clay soils. Clods will break down much easier after a winter of snow, frost, wind and rain. Try and incorporate as much organic matter as possible to increase drainage and fertility. Riding
stables are a good source of cheap manure.
4) With only 50 to 65mm of rain expected in October in the north, together with a number of sunny days, try and get as much winter work completed as possible before the really harsh weather sets in. Don’t forget to collect all those fallen apples! There are a number of local people now willing to offer juicing facilities for a small fee, remember that if they have fallen, fruits will be bruised and will not store, other than by preparing and freezing. Dispose of unwanted fallen fruits as they may well carry over disease from year to year.
5) Use this period to give the glasshouse a thorough clean when all of the plants can be put outside on a mild day. Clean the glass inside and out, and scrub down benches with a mild disinfectant before hosing down the entire area. If you use electricity in the glasshouse, check that the earth breaker is clean and acting effectively.
6) Collect seeds of those plants you may wish to increase, store dry seeds in paper envelopes in an airtight container on the bottom shelf of the fridge. If unsure when to sow the seed, sow half on collection and the other half in the spring.
7) Fix grease bands to apple and pear tree trunks.
8) Clean out ponds and remove pumps for the winter.
9) Give conifer hedges a final trim and finish planting evergreen shrubs.
10) Take hardwood cuttings from shrubs and fruit bushes, lift and divide rhubarb crowns.
11) Lift and store carrots and potatoes. Cut back tall shrubs like Lavatera and Buddleia to half their length to prevent winter damage. Complete cutting them back in early spring.
12) Clean out leaves from round all alpine plants, if left outside provide the protection of a cold frame or even a sheet of glass or plastic to prevent the plants becoming waterlogged.
13) Frequently collect leaves from around the garden and store in a wire mesh bin using four wooden posts at the corners to produce excellent leaf mould compost by next autumn. Leaves left on the lawn will kill the grass and can also attract slugs and snails.
14) Can compost can be harmful in holes dug for new trees? Guy Barter, chief horticultural adviser at the RHS, says: "The compost rots and the tree settles down too far in the soil and as a
result root and stem rot can set in. It's best to plant trees in plain old soil."
Posted 1st Oct 5:14pm