Cut back, tidy up and prep for winter in October
Get wrapped up and make the most of these crisp, blue-sky days to tidy up and cut back in the garden. If you grow fruit and veg, you’ll still be reaping the benefits of your hard work.
Here’s our top jobs to keep your garden in great shape in October:
- Protect half-hardy plants with horticulture fleece or bring them into a frost-free greenhouse or indoors if you can.
- Lift dahlia tubers, begonia tubers and gladioli corms to store dry over the winter months. Remove any dead foliage before storing them.
- Prune climbing and rambling roses once they’ve finished flowering, and tie in the stems before autumn winds cause any problems.
- Clear up fallen rose leaves to prevent diseases such as black spot. 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 if you prefer the neat look. Alternatively leave the dead foliage in place to shelter friendly wildlife.
- After tidying borders, clearing debris and pulling weeds mulch with bark chips, well-rotted manure, leaf mould or spent mushroom compost to insulate plant roots for the winter and reduce weed growth.
- October is a good time to move trees and shrubs if you need to.
- Invest in bird baths and bird feeders this autumn to encourage hungry feathered friends into your garden. Birds are a gardener’s friend and keep pests down.
- Use the last of the dry weather to paint sheds and fences with preservative before the winter arrives.
- Make time to give evergreen hedges a final trim before the bad weather sets in, so they look neat and tidy for the winter.
- Once plants are dormant, it’s a good time to lift and relocate any that you want to move.
Plant spring bulbs now
Keep on top of the fruit and vegetable patch in October with these top jobs:
- Finish harvesting beans and peas. 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 beans next year, start preparing the site by digging trenches and filling with manure.
- Harvest squashes and pumpkins 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 or pepper plants with green fruits upside down indoors to ripen.
- Protect autumn cauliflower heads from frost by wrapping the outer leaves around them and securing with string. Alternatively use a cloche or fleece.
- Cut back yellowing asparagus foliage to within 5cm of the ground.
- Reuse old grow bags by cutting away the top and sowing late salad crops. Cropping can be extended into winter if grown under glass, cloches or polytunnels.
- If you haven’t done so already, cut back the fruited canes of your summer fruiting raspberries, leaving the new green canes for next year’s crop. Tie in next year’s raspberry canes to support wires or fencing.
- Clear the straw from around the base of strawberry plants to increase ventilation. Shear back old foliage to encourage fresh new growth.
- Divide congested clumps of rhubarb by digging up and splitting into several pieces with a spade. Re-plant the healthiest looking pieces.
- Remove any diseased fruits from branches or the ground so they don’t infect next year’s crops.
- Remove the netting from fruit cages to allow birds to catch and eat any pests that are lurking there.
- Check stored onions and garlic and remove any rotting bulbs immediately. The neck of the bulb is usually the first area to rot.
- Check stored potatoes and remove any that are rotting. Use hessian sacks to store your potatoes as this allows the crop to breathe.
Chrysanthemums are our Plant of the Month for October
Autumn is the perfect time to plant chrysanthemums to add some bright pops of colour to borders and pots right through the winter.
- When temperatures drop you can cover the plant with horticulture fleece to protect them, but autumn chrysanthemums are generally pretty hardy.
- Deadhead fading flowers to encourage further blooms.
- Feed with Levington Fish Blood and Bone Multi-Purpose Plant Food or Miracle-Gro All Purpose Concentrated Liquid Plant Food to encourage more flowers for longer.