Garden Jobs – If you are a keen gardener, you probably already have a mental tick list of jobs that need to be attended to each calendar month. You will see those bossy columns in the weekend papers and in all likelihood; you’ll get monthly top tips from gardening websites dropping into your inbox. Personally, I find the newsletters from http://www.crocus.co.uk/inspiration/ very helpful. I also have a pile of books like the RHS Gardening Through the Year by the bed. This then, is my own attempt at a garden jobs in October list.
One of the garden jobs is to deal with the movable, expensive stuff first by which I mean, look after your patio furniture! (We live and breathe garden furniture here, so it won’t be surprising to find that’s top of our to do list!). Wooden outdoor furniture will need to be stored away or covered; and all parasols should be taken down. This time of year brings the first serious storms, so move anything that could get damaged in a storm. If you’ve got rattan patio furniture, it might be sensible to store any glass table tops, and check that your outdoor furniture won’t get blown around in blustery conditions. Put the cushions somewhere warm and dry to over-winter. The rest of your rattan garden furniture can stay put with no ill effects since it is made to withstand a wide range of temperature.
Garden Jobs – Deal With The Leaves
High winds have brought down the first leaves of autumn. These need to be raked off the lawn to protect the grass, but I like to leave masses in my flowerbeds as extra protection over the winter. If you have lots of trees as we do, it’s a surprisingly physical job. Best place for the leaves is in black bin liners. If you add a splash of water and prick some holes, nature will do its work and come the spring, you will have lovely productive leaf mould. This year I’ve vowed to make a chicken wire pen for the leaves instead since that ought to take a bit less effort.
Garden Jobs – Fruit Crops
It’s time to get in the last of the autumn fruit crops before strong winds shake all the pears and apples to the ground. My best advice is to prepare as much fruit as you can for the freezer before you attempt to store apples and pears. If you are storing, the ideal way is to use a set of drawers like the ones advertised by Crocus.co.uk http://www.crocus.co.uk/products/_/outdoor/apple-time/plcid.768/plcid.791.
Apparently, you need to find somewhere cold (about 5 degrees) and damp (not so obvious, I think). Set each fruit apart from others so that if they do start to rot, they don’t contaminate each other. Over the years, I’ve picked up a very handy antique metal apple grabber and charming wicker basket with a wooden hook attached – the perfect way to have a basket to hand when you are picking. It also makes a great vessel for holding loo rolls the rest of the year, so well worth owning.
Garden Jobs – Plant Perennials
You still have time to get some new perennials or climbers into the ground. It will give them a great head start next season.
It is also a very good time to divide overgrown perennials. Get your hands (or a couple of spades) in amongst those shaggy heaps of geranium. In no time at all, you will have covered an entire flowerbed from one or two small cuttings. I used three small cranesbill geranium phaeum with one brunnera to kick start a bare area shaded by a tree in one corner of my garden. It may have taken two or three years, but now the whole bed is covered in these lovely perennials.
Garden Jobs – Dig Check
Talking of dividing, it is a good opportunity to lift and divide rhubarb plants, and cut back the dead growth on perennial vegetables. It’s a good time to go round and check you’ve remembered to dig everything up too – last weekend, I dug up a clutch of pink fir apple potatoes which had somehow got forgotten. The outdoor tomatoes have only just given up too. If your plants are sheltered, because we’ve had such a mild autumn, you may be able to harvest some green tomatoes before the fruits turn black in the frost.
Garden Jobs – Vegetable Patch
Once the veg patch has been cleared of all debris (in my case, I’m still cropping dandelions for the guinea pigs), cover it in a good layer of muck. The winter weather will break it down and get the nutrients worked into the soil.
Garden Jobs – Spring Bedding
This really is the last opportunity you’ll have to plant spring bedding and to get the daffodil bulbs in.
Take a look around the garden and move any tender plants under cover to protect from frost. If you have delicate containers on the patio, move those too – or wrap them up in sacking or bubble wrap if they are too heavy to shift. I move any tender herbs in containers into an unheated frost-free greenhouse, and put other tubs right next to the back door since I have no plans to go rambling round in the dark looking for something to spice up the pasta.
Garden Jobs – Finish planting evergreen shrubs and the last few jobs…
If you want more shrubs and fruit bushes such as blackcurrants, gooseberry and redcurrants, you can take hardwood cuttings now.
Tidy up the strawberry patch – snip off runners and dig out weeds. Then mulch between the rows with well -rotted compost.
Tulips – you need to wait until the temperature has dropped a bit before planting tulip bulbs since they are vulnerable to the fungus, tulip fire, and planting in late autumn can help.
It used to be said that one should lift and store dahlias, but I have begun to leave mine in the earth. Last year, I forgot about some plants that were growing in the vegetable patch and they all did very well this year, despite that very wet spring. If you are going to lift them to store, apparently you should leave them in the ground for as long as possible since the tubers do most of their growing in the short autumn days. I expect yours are still in full flower like mine, so nothing would be further from the mind. When clearing leaves, remember to keep the pond free from leaf fall too. When the trees are bare, and the pond won’t need any more attention, take out the pump and store over winter.