Gardening jobs for October
The days seem to get shorter even quicker in October. Furthermore, the clocks changing at the end of the month signal the end of any opportunity to visit the allotment after work. Thankfully you should have brought in most of the harvest by now. So it’s time to preserve summer’s hard work with this month’s gardening jobs to see us through the winter.
Gardening jobs in the veg garden
Harvest pumpkins and squash
Halloween wouldn’t be as much fun without pumpkins. There are a huge range of delicious squash that you can easily grow at home and store for several months. When picking them, cut the vine, not the stalk as this reduces the possibility of them rotting. Put them in a warm, sunny spot for a few days to allow the skins to harden before moving them to their winter storage, somewhere cool and away from any rodents that might get hungry for a sweet treat through the winter.
Garlic is best planted in the autumn as it needs a long season. Plant them 10cm apart in rows 30cm apart. Plant them so the tip of the bulb is just below the soil surface, and always use a trowel to plant them, even through it’s tempting to just push them in. This can damage the bulb and compact the soil under them meaning they take longer to get going.
Order fruit trees
Late autumn and winter is a great time for planting trees. If you are dreaming of a new orchard, now is the time to start planning. A visit to one of the many apple days around the country is a great opportunity to try some of the less well-known varieties. Growing your own is a great opportunity to be able to grow one of the several thousand varieties that aren’t available in the shops.
Plant out spring cabbage
If you sowed spring cabbage a few months ago, they should now be ready to plant out. Plant them 30cm apart, in rows 45cm apart and make sure the soil around the plants is firmed in well (brassicas need firm soil). Be careful not to plant them in the same ground every year as this can cause the build up of pests and diseases like clubroot.
Sow broad beans
Broad beans are very hardy and some broad bean varieties produce much earlier crops if sown in the autumn. On heavy soils that stay wet through the winter they can be prone to damping off or rotting. So it can be a good idea to start them off in pots in the greenhouse and plant them out in the early spring as the soil warms up again.
Cut back asparagus
Any asparagus that has been left to grow into tall feathery spikes can now be cut back to ground level. Freshen up the beds with another layer of well rotted compost.
Plant strawberry runners
Remove any strawberry runners from the parent plants and pot on. Strawberry plants will need replacing every few years, so these will provide stock for replenishing the beds.
Gardening jobs: Ornamentals
Roses will start to flower less and less during the Autumn. It can be good opportunity to reduce them in height by around a third. This should reduce the head of foliage developed during the summer, so they aren’t shaken around in high winds, as this can damage the roots.
Sow Sweet Peas
Sowing sweet peas in autumn gives much stronger plants with better developed root system. This means they get off to a better start in the spring and will flower much earlier than spring sown plants.
Plant lily bulbs
Now’s a good time to plant any lily bulbs you may have. Lilies will need a period of a few weeks of cold weather to help initiate the development of flowers. If you buy them in the spring instead, find ones that have been held in a cold store so that they’re ready to start growing the moment you plant them.
Remove summer bedding
By the end of the month the cold and damp autumn weather will start to take its toll on any annual plantings. Remove these once they start to look a bit long in the tooth in anticipation of the next planting. Plant pansies, violas and wall flowers now, but just note that they won’t start to look their best until next spring
Gardening jobs for the lawn
Rake leaves from lawn
By October the leaves will be falling fast and it becomes regular activity to keep the lawn clear. In some areas of the garden you can allow them to rot where they fall. However, if the leaves are left on a lawn, they will gradually weaken the grass. Collect them up and move them to the compost heap. If you use a spring-tined rake you can remove moss on thatch from the lawn at the same time doing two jobs for the price of one.
Trimming the edges of the lawn will make it look neater. Even if it is too wet to get the mower out.
Gardening jobs for the pond
Remove fallen leaves
Make sure you scoop any leaves that fall into the pond out with a net. If allowed to settle in the pond, they will increase nutrient levels in the water as they decompose and can cause problems with blooms of algae in the spring.
Gardening jobs in the greenhouse
Pot on cuttings
Cuttings of Fuchsia, Salvia, Coleus and Lavender which you took in the late summer should have rooted by now and will be ready to pot on. Harden them off in cold frame for a while or keep them in the greenhouse over winter as they can still be a bit tender. However, getting them into a bigger pot now will mean they should need a bit less regular watering over the winter months and they will make big plants ready to go out in the garden in the spring.
Plant hyacinth bulbs
In October you will be able to buy prepared hyacinth bulbs from garden centres and online retailers. To get the best flowers from a hyacinth they need to have a period of chilling before they are started into growth in a warm atmosphere. If you plant them now, they should be in flower around Christmas and will fill your home with their beautiful perfume.
Bring tender plants indoors
By the end of October the risk of frost is imminent. So if any plants might suffer in the cold weather, like bananas or citrus, bring them in to a sheltered and frost free spot to see them through the winter.
Gardening jobs: Pests and diseases
At this time of year many plants will be approaching their swan song. Courgettes, Pumpkins and Squash will often succumb to powdery mildew. This looks as though the leaves have been dusted with chalk. It gets established when plants are stressed by dry weather, but gets worse when the spores are spread by rain. The plants will soon die so cut them down and compost them. The heat of the compost heap should kill off any spores.