October is a beautiful month of autumnal colours and first frosts. Crisp, blue-sky days are the perfect time to tidy up and cut back in the garden. If you grow fruit and veg, there’s still plenty to harvest and store for the cold winter months ahead.
Here are some of the main jobs for the month of October:
- If your greenhouse is fairly empty, now’s a good time to clean and disinfect it. This lets in more light and prevents pests and diseases from over-wintering.
- Protect half-hardy plants with fleece or bring them into a frost-free greenhouse.
- Sweep up any fallen leaves that harbour fungal spores and provide ideal hiding places for slugs and snails. Use them to make leaf mould for the garden.
- Lift and divide any overcrowded herbaceous perennials whilst the soil is still warm.
In the flower garden…
- Lift dahlia tubers, begonia tubers and gladioli corms to store over the winter months. Remove any dead foliage before storing them.
- You can take hardwood cuttings from deciduous shrubs
- Prune rambling and climbing roses once they’ve finished flowering, and tie in the stems before autumn winds cause damage.
- Clear up fallen rose leaves to prevent diseases such as black spot from over-wintering. To avoid the spread of damaging fungi, don’t compost the leaves.
- Clear overhanging plants from pathways to maintain access around the garden.
- Cut back perennial plants that have died down. Alternatively, leave the dead foliage in place to shelter friendly wildlife.
- After tidying borders, mulch with bark chips, well-rotted manure, leaf mould or spent mushroom compost to insulate plant roots for the winter and keep weed growth in check.
- This month is the ideal time to plant hedges and move trees and shrubs.
In the vegetable garden…
- Finish harvesting peas and beans. When they’ve finished cropping simply cut the plant away at ground level, leaving the roots in the soil. These crops fix nitrogen which is slowly released into the soil as the roots break down.
- If you plan to grow peas and beans next year, start preparing the site by digging trenches and filling them with manure or kitchen waste.
- Harvest pumpkins and squashes before the first frosts. They quickly turn mushy if left outside!
- When you harvest your cabbages, leave the root in the ground and make a cut across the stem to encourage a flush of smaller leaves.
- Hang any tomato plants and pepper plants with green fruits upside down indoors to ripen.
- Protectautumn cauliflower heads, like ‘White Step’ F1 hybrid, from frost by wrapping the outer leaves around them and securing them with string. Alternatively use a cloche or fleece.
- Cut back yellowing asparagus foliage to within 5cm of the ground.
- Reuse old growbags by cutting away the top and sowing late salad crops. Cropping can be extended into winter if grown under glass, cloches or inside polytunnels.
In the greenhouse…
- If you haven’t done so already, remove any greenhouse shading to allow as much light in as possible.
- Move tender plants into the greenhouse to protect them from early frosts. Make sure that there’s enough space between to keep them well ventilated and reduce the risk of disease.
- Check any plants which you’re bringing inside for pests like aphids.
- Continue to remove any fallen or dead plant material to keep the growing area free of fungal diseases.
- Set up your greenhouse heater in case of early frosts.