October in the Garden

Monday, 15 October 2018  |  Alison

October in the Garden

With the weather set fair for October, this month is a great opportunity to catch up with some of the odd jobs that need doing around the garden and prepare pots, borders and plants for the winter months ahead.  But beware, warm bright sunny days with clear nights are a sure sign that a frost will probably occur at night during October so keep an eye on your local weather reports.  
It is also time to plan and plant spring bulbs and garden ready perennials ready for colour in tubs, containers and borders next year.

Here are the Brookside Nursery Top Ten Tips for your Garden in October:- 

As summer annual flowers fade they produce seeds, so try saving some to use next year.  You will be able to see when the seeds are ready to be collected when they drop readily from the seed heads or pods. Keep them in a labelled brown paper bag in a cool area that is frost free until February and sow them into shallow seed trays, grow them on and plant them out next spring. Nigella, Calendula, Clarkia and Helianthus are all annuals easily grown from seed that will give a splash of colour to summer borders.

Dahlias are one of the first plants to show you that there has been a cold night with frost.  These photos show that one of my dahlias had green leaves yesterday but overnight ‘Jack Frost’ has touched the foliage with his icy fingers and now the leaves are blackened.  So, it is now time to cut them back to within a few inches of the ground and mulch around the crown of the plant or lift the tubers and store them somewhere frost free, cool and dry. Repot them next March/April and put them out into their final flowering positions in June ready for the next summer’s flowers to bloom.       ​  

Harvesting fruits and vegetables is high on the agenda this month. Apple and pear trees are readily dropping their fruits so try and pick some from the trees before they get damaged dropping to the ground, especially if you want to store some fruits. Use the windfalls straight away cooked in pies or chutneys.

Keeping with fruit trees, the codling moth (female and wingless) likes to crawl up the trunks of fruit trees at this time of year to lay its eggs. The young caterpillars that hatch can cause havoc and damage new leaves and blossom in spring so act now to try and lessen this. Tie grease-bands around the base of any fruit trees you have. 

 Start feeding the birds again for the winter months.  Their source of food begins to get harder to find and now that the young are grown (and choking should not be a hazard) it is safe to put peanuts out too as a supplement to their diet. Clean out and keep bird baths topped up with fresh water. They are useful for birds to bathe in and drink from and they look attractive in the garden.

Sow sweet pea seeds into root trainer containers or into pots and leave them to over-winter in a cold frame or sheltered position. They should form good root systems and not much top growth but will be ready to burst forth come the spring and you will have early flowering sweet peas.

Tender plants such as pelargoniums and houseplants that have had summer outside on the patio can be brought inside again. A warm conservatory is perfect for such plants but any spot that has natural daylight and a touch of warmth will be fine.

It is time to plant garlic and onions, so have a look on our website to see our varieties and get them in soon so that the bulbs have a cold period in the ground which enable them to develop correctly.

Whilst the weather is pleasant in October it is always good to get summer bedding cleared away from borders, containers and hanging baskets to make way for autumn/winter colour and to plant spring bulbs.   Although it is fun to select your favourite colours, also take a look at the flowering times because you can have different bulbs in flower from late January right through until the end of May, so choose wisely.  I love the anticipation of having to wait for spring bulbs to burst through the surface of the soil. It makes the effort of planting something that you can’t actually see for several months all worthwhile, I promise!  

 As Half Term approaches and children need an outdoor activity to do, with adult supervision, why not   create a place in the garden that can be used by all manner of creatures that need a home to hibernate in   during the winter months. Take a woodland walk together and collect bits of broken wood and twigs, f   fallen tree cones etc... Hollow stems from perennials that have been cut back in the garden are an ideal   habitat for tiny insects and try and get some old bricks with holes in and some straw if possible from a   nearby stables or pet shop, or better still a neighbour who keeps rabbits. All of these make a great hidey  hole for creatures of the garden and you can build them into a 5* ‘Insect Hotel’.  

 

 
Brookside Nursery