Make the most of your garden this month as autumn settles in
October is the time of year where things start to feel positively wintry, with lots of rain and wind and showers of brightly coloured leaves spiralling to the ground. I do find it quite magical though, and I love to cast my mind forward to autumnal calendar events like Halloween and Bonfire Night. This month, it’s still nice to trot around the garden tying up any loose ends before battening down the hatches for winter, and if we’re lucky we may still enjoy some sunny afternoons along with the misty mornings and ever-darker evenings.
Here are a few jobs to keep on top of in your garden as winter draws nearer.
Protect your plants:
- Invest in some gardening fleece and lay over your half hardy perennials to protect them from this month’s risk of frost, or move them into your greenhouse if you have one.
- Lift tubers from plants like Dahlias and Begonias, and Gladiolus corms to dry store for the colder winter months. This way, they’ll be good to re-plant next year.
- Lift and divide your perennials if they’re overcrowded, and add quality mulch to the soil once the beds are looking nice and tidy.
- If your containers and pots are looking a bit past their best at this stage, consider re-planting them with some winter bedding plants like dwarf conifers, cordylines or Heuchera. Heathers are great for a splash of colour too, and check out this blog for some tips on planting for autumn colour.
- Plant out spring bedding and daffodil bulbs now for an explosion of uplifting colour once spring rolls around.
- Now’s the time to enjoy the last of your beans and peas, and make sure to pick pumpkins and squashes before the cold weather turns them pulpy!
- If you’re still waiting on tomatoes and peppers to ripen, don’t despair – bring them inside and hang them upside down. They’ll ripen in the warmth in due course. Another good trick is to speed up ripening by placing the unripe veggies next to a nice, ripe tomato. Ripe tomatoes emit the gas ethylene, which quickens the process. Magic!
- Pears, apples and most nuts are primed for picking now, so get baking some delicious crumbles!
- If you keep a water butt, now’s the time to empty it and give the inside a good clean to stop gunk and slime building up. The autumn rains will soon replenish it.
- If you don’t already have one, try creating a compost heap for your own garden fertiliser! Here you can find instructions on creating your own – you can even use a small container if you’re short on garden space. It makes such a difference to your plants!
- Make sure to keep on top of raking up fallen leaves. As the foliage decays, it creates the perfect environment for slugs and snails to thrive and also gives off spores, so keep clearing up and adding to your compost heap!
- A bonfire is a lovely way to spend a few hours on a cold autumn evening. Start building your own now using cuttings, branches and leaves – but make sure to protect it if possible to keep it nice and dry. Always check for hedgehogs and other wildlife sheltering in the bonfire before you light it!
- Before the frosts set in, it’s a good idea to protect any sheds and fences with a good preservative to keep them in shape for next year.
- If you’re lucky enough to have a garden pond, place a net over it to catch any falling leaves.
- Protect your pots from frozen ground by raising them up onto pot feet.
- Invest in a bird bath or bird feeder to attract feathered friends to your garden. They will welcome the extra nutrition going into the winter months, and repay you by keeping pest numbers down on your plot.
- October really is your LAST CHANCE to mow the lawn before leaving the grass alone for the winter. Now’s a good time to aerate and feed your lawn too to get it looking its best next spring.