October in the Garden
October is the ideal time to start preparing your garden for the winter ahead as the nights draw in and it begins to feel colder. Raking up and collecting fallen leaves may seem like a never ending chore this month, but it is good exercise and if you compost them, they will provide you with the most wonderful leaf mould in a year or two, with which to improve your soil.
The Ornamental Garden
Lift gladioli corns and dahlia and begonia tubers at the first signs of frost, removing any dead foliage before storing them somewhere dry to over winter. Protect the rhizomes of deciduous and evergreen agapanthus by applying a thick mulch of bark 15-22cm (6-9in) deep around the plants.
Lift and divide overcrowded herbaceous plants and cut back those that have died back, to tidy them up. Any stakes that were supporting these plants can also be put away for the winter.
If you have a greenhouse, cold frame or a potting shed, move tender half-hardy plants grown in pots undercover or, if in the ground outside, protect with fleece.
Plant winter/spring flowering bedding such as pansies, violas, wallflowers, Bellis, primulas and polyanthus and spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, tulips, grape hyacinths, fritillaries and alliums for stunning displays next year. October is also a good time to plant clematis.
The Veg Patch
Get empty vegetable beds ready for next year by digging them over once the remnants of this year’s crops have been cleared. Adding a layer of well-rotted manure to the bare soil will help to keep weeds down and will gradually break down over the winter to provide you with wonderfully fertile soil.
Harvest pumpkins, squash and marrows once they have ripened, but before first frosts to prevent them from becoming mushy. Once picked they should be left in the sun, or placed in a greenhouse, shed or garage so that the skins can dry out before storing them in a cool, dark place.
As it is now too late to rely on tomatoes and peppers ripening naturally outside, it is best to dig them up and hang those with green fruits upside down in a greenhouse to ripen.
Put in autumn planting garlic, onion and shallot varieties this month. Broad beans can also be sown for early crops next year, however it is worth protecting the young seedlings from the worst of the weather by covering them with a cloche over the winter.
The Fruit Garden
Apply grease bands or insect barrier glue around your fruit trees to prevent the female winter moth, whose caterpillars hatch in spring and can cause severe damage to both leaves and blossom, from climbing up to mate and lay her eggs.
Continue to harvest apples and pears as they ripen. If you wish to store the fruit, choose only those that are blemish free and preferably still will their stalk intact. Fruits should be stored in a cool, dark but well ventilated place such a garage, garden shed or cellar. Quince and medlars can also be picked and stored toward the end of this month.
Prune blackberry and hybrid berries once they have finished fruiting, cutting out those canes that fruited this year and tying in the new ones that will produce next year’s crop.
October is also the ideal time to plant strawberry plants/runners for crops next year.
Deans’ is a family-run business with over 50 years growing experience. We’ve changed a lot since we started out growing tomatoes, Lettuces and Chrysanthemums. These days we’re an established retail outlet with gardening and growing the main emphasis. As well as the nursery we also supply bark and topsoil in bulk to gardeners, allotments, schools and trade customers