GARDENING - your jobs for October

Firethorn
Firethorn

October is one of the most colourful times of the year. Many flowers are still blooming and the leaves on trees and shrubs are beginning to change to fiery colours like red, yellow and orange.

It’s a good time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials as the soil still has some warmth and will help to get them established.

Try to get evergreens planted by the end of the month. Evergreen shrubs provide structure and form to the garden throughout the year, but many produce early displays of flowers followed by autumn berries.

Berry-bearing trees and shrubs come into their own this month, creating colourful displays that can last well into winter. From elder berries to rose hips, crab apples to firethorns, the addition of berrying plants adds a new dimension to any garden.

Berrying plants also provide home grown food for hungry birds and wildlife too.

Trained against walls and fences, Firethorn is a valuable evergreen shrub, its thorny stems make it a great choice for producing secure garden boundaries.

Don’t let the spines put you off buying Pyracantha though – they provide valuable nesting sites for birds and their flowers attract bees. Explore the Cotoneaster family too, attractive ornamental shrubs with year-round appeal that make an excellent choice to carpet banks and low borders or train up to cover bare fences. Birds love these berries, quickly stripping stems bare as they stock-up for winter.

For a lot of gardeners October is a tidy-up month, getting plants and containers ready for winter but there are other jobs that need doing as well, as gardening experts will tell you...

September is generally a cooler, gustier month than August and the days are noticeably shorter. While there’s not as much to do in the ornamental garden at this time of the year, if you have a fruit or vegetable patch, you’ll be busy reaping the rewards of harvest.

It’s also time to get out and start planting spring-flowering bulbs for next year and you can collect seeds for next summer’s colour too. Make the most of the remaining warmth while you can!

RHS

Get more plants for free by saving seeds from your favourite plants. You can collect seeds from your garden and the wild, but make sure to label the seeds clearly so you know what they are next spring!

It’s important to keep the lawn clear of fallen leaves as they can harbour disease and harm the grass. Rake up the leaves and put them in the compost bin, then apply a fertiliser.

It’s important to choose an autumn mixture that boosts roots, rather than a spring one that promotes leafy growth.

October is a good month for planting large trees and shrubs - it gives their roots time to get established before winter sets in.

David Domoney, TV gardener and presenter

October’s the time for clearing up. Greenhouses, ponds, gutters and water butts may all need cleaning out, wooden garden furniture will need covering or storing for the winter and terracotta pots will need bringing inside.

Care for your lawn by raking or brushing leaves off the grass.

Try collecting them in a leaf bag, which will turn them into useful leaf mould.

You can also cut the grass for one last time this year.

Make that last cut slightly higher to protect the lawn from winter frost.

Plant bulbs for a colourful spring display. Try planting clumps of five or seven bulbs of the same variety through a border for a really effective display.

In the veg patch plant garlic cloves with their pointed ends up, and spaced 10cm apart.

Eden Project

If you Grow Your Own then October is a good time for digging over vacant areas of the vegetable plot, as the approaching cold weather may help to improve the soil structure by breaking down large clumps into crumbly particles.

Dig up outdoor tomato plants and hang them upside-down in the greenhouse to allow the fruits to ripen.

Cut back asparagus foliage if not already done last month and now is a good time to get ahead and prepare new asparagus beds for planting up in the spring.

When clearing old pea and bean plants, simply cut off the tops for the compost heap, and dig the roots into the soil.

They return valuable nitrogen to the earth, acting as a natural fertiliser.

Take cuttings of blueberries, currants and gooseberries and prepare the ground for new fruit trees, nuts, vines, canes and bushes.

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