The October gardener has to sadly contend with the closing of the season but must also be able to maintain a positive approach to the coming year. Jobs to do at this time can be divided into:
Preparing for Winter
We all notice that temperatures are starting to drop at this time of year. Now is the time to move those tender plants to somewhere with a little more shelter. If you do not own a greenhouse, a conservatory or porch are also ideal.
If you have outside containers that are too big to move, try wrapping them in bubble wrap or mulch around the plant for protection.
Reduce watering now, as although many plants can withstand the cold, they do not like to be frozen, any more than we do!
Don’t forget to collect up those fallen leaves, hopefully when they are not too wet. Put them into black sacks, poke a few holes in the sacks to allow air in and moisture to escape, loosely tie the sacks and in the spring you should have some good leaf mould to nourish your gardens. Leaf mould is one of the best soil improvers.
Kitchen/vegetable gardens need a very thorough clear-out to give the soil a rest. Dig them over well, and remember to rotate the crops you intend to grow next year to prevent pathogens getting comfortable .
You can reduce mowing frequency now and allow grass a little more height over winter to give it some strength. If you can, scarify your lawn by removing as much thatch as possible – I, personally, have found that it makes an enormous difference to the look of the lawn as it improves drainage and allows air in to the roots!
Cut back as much dead matter as possible, and give your paths a good sweep. Get a pile ready for burning on bonfire night, but please don’t forget the wildlife, and make sure there are no hedgehogs making their winter home in that cosy pile of waste matter. Can we ALL provide a potential hedgehog home as we need to do all we can to support these handy slug eaters that have declined by nearly 90%.
Getting ready for Spring
Cut back climbers. Divide perennials. Lift dahlias and store the tubers upside down in a cool dry wooden tray.
Now is the time for planting shrubs and trees while the soil is still warm and moisture can still be taken up.
Plant new hardy herbaceous perennials and bare root plants. Plant spring bulbs now you it will lift your spirits enormously when those first spring flowers appear.
Look out for some hardy cyclamen in the garden centres. These relatively tough little plants look good nestling under trees, will withstand some nasty weather and reproduce quite rapidly. A pick-me up at this time of year when many other plants are bidding us a fond winter farewell.
Sit back in your armchair with a cup of tea and those gardening catalogues and dream of the warmer weather to come hopefully next year.