You might be feeling a little wistful that summer has officially left us; that the garden is winding-down and relaxing into a gentle sort of collapse – or you might just as easily be feeling energised and full of anticipation at the colours and scents that autumn brings. Whichever it is, there are plenty of tasks that you can enjoy in the garden in October.
Planting and planning…
Although October might feel like the end of the gardening year, in many ways it’s also a beginning. Plants are setting seed and all around fruits are ripening and summer’s energy and warmth are being locked away, ready to burst into life in a few months time. So, collect seed from plants that you might want to grow next year, gathering it in dry paper bags and keeping it stored in cool, dark, dry conditions.
Now is also the time to think about spring bulbs – which is enough to brighten any blustery afternoon. Think about crocus, narcissus, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, early miniature iris – the list goes on. Tulips can be planted as late as November, but bulbs will get a head start by being planted from now onwards.
As perennials die back, it’s worth digging over tired borders, cutting back and dividing overgrown plants, before repositioning them for next year. It’s always fun to think about new planting schemes and now is a good time to do this, as you can clear the summer weeds, mulch and lay out a new design.
You can also plant pot-grown trees and new perennials, as the soil is still warm. Make sure to give things a good water once planted, as heavy rain won’t always soak through all of the root ball. Rake up falling leaves for leaf mould and start to add cuttings and cleared material to the compost heap – excluding woody stems and diseased material.
Plant out autumn onion sets ready for next summer and keep checking ripening pumpkins and marrows, keeping them off the ground on slate or stone to prevent rot.
Cut back summer fruiting raspberry canes and clear dead foliage and straw from strawberries. As the apples ripen test each one in your hand – when ripe they’ll come of the tree with a gentle pull – if they don’t, they’re not ready.
Elsewhere in the garden…
Wash down and clean out your greenhouse to discourage diseases and pests, as this will ensure it’s a ready environment to place tender plants in for over-wintering. Now is also a good time to repair or re-lay your lawn if it’s taken some wear and tear over the summer.
Net your pond if you find that autumn leaves begin to clog the surface, as this prevents them choking the pond over winter.
Houseplants are growing in popularity again, so if you’ve had any in the conservatory or even outside the back door over the summer, bring them in before the temperature drops, refresh their compost if necessary and avoid placing them too near draughty windows or dry, hot radiators. Tropical plants can also be stood in a tray of damp gravel to maintain the correct humidity levels.
Lots to do…best find your wellies and gloves. Enjoy.