Where has September gone? We can’t quite believe October is here already! There is still plenty to do in the garden though, especially with harvesting, sowing and planting still happening, however we really should be thinking about preparing for the arrival of winter. It is the perfect time to sort things out, now that crops are harvested and plant debris and rubbish is the ideal place for pests and diseases to over winter. A clean garden now means a clean start in the new year.
The temperatures have definitely dropped and everything feels much more autumnal at the moment. It’s not all dull though as late bloomers are still going strong with a fine display but don’t let this lure you into a false sense of security as the risk of frost is very real, especially in the north so keep some fleece just in case
October in the Garden
It’s the perfect time to plant overwintering broad beans to get ahead of the game early next year. We have some great varieties and Broad Bean De Monica has to be your first choice for overwinter. Grow it now or if you prefer they can be grown in spring. Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia is another good choice and probably the favourite amongst broad bean advocates. If you’re lacking space then how about Broad Bean The Sutton? It’s a smaller, more compact variety and as well as being delicious is also very easy on the eyes. You can, of course, sow them as seeds or as young plants, which is best if you want quicker establishment.
Peas can be sown for overwintering too and Pea Douce Provence is about the variety for autumn sowing. It’s a versatile variety that can also be spring sown but if you sow now you could be picking your first peas next May! Or why not do both, that way you could have this variety growing practically all year round!
To produce the stockiest Sweet Peas with the earliest flowers, sow them in autumn. Root trainers can be used for better establishment and then place them in a Cold Frame toover-wintered. If you live in mild areas that are protected from the frost then you can sow them in situ, but have protective Fleece or Tunnels onhand if things get really bad. However, if you don’t live in a mild area or have a cold frame or even the time you can buy young Sweet Pea Plants which will be delivered from March ready to plant straight out into your garden.
Get your Onions, Shallots and Garlic planted before it’s too late. There are plenty to choose from and if you don’t have space right now they are also great for spring planting too. Here are some great Garlic varieties that are perfect for autumn planting. Some good hardneck varieties are Carcassone Wight,a pink-cloved variety, and Chesnok Wight,awhite skinned variety with black veining. Aside from garlic, onions can be autumn planted too such as Radar, Senshyu Yellow and Red Cross and Shakespeare. For shallots Yellow Moon and Biztro are really good for autumn planting.
Lettuce Winter Density can be sown now, as can Perpetual Spinach, Spinach Mississippi or Oriental Spinach Mikado all of which can beenjoyed throughout winter. Mizuna is a great oriental vegetable for overwintering and Mustard Mix is great for adding that all important spiciness for a winter salad. If you’re growing leaves outside use Fleece or Tunnels for protection from frost, slugs and mice damage. However, if you have access to a greenhouse, you could use a Gro-Bed andsow the seeds inside, keeping them warmer and better protected.
Lettuce Winter Density, Provencale Salad Mix and Spinach Amazon are all available as young plants, so if you don’t have the time to sow them you can still enjoy them all the same. All are perfect outdoors, in cold greenhouse or under a coldframe.
As the ground still has some heat left from the warm summer, it’s the perfect time for planting both Soft and Top Fruit to help them establish a good root system. There is a great selection for you to choose from including old favourites and new introductions and no matter if your favourite fruit is Apples, Pears, Cherries, Strawberries, Raspberries or Grapes there’ll be something for everyone. How about our new columnar apple trees? Apple Garden Fountain produces heavy yields of medium size green/yellow eating apples with a mild, well balanced flavour. Apple Blue Moon bears attractive and unusual blue-purple eating apples with crisp juicy flesh and a sweet-sharp flavour. Apple Fire Dance produces heavy yields of medium size, bright yellow-orange eating apples with crisp juicy flesh and a tangy fresh flavour.
It’s a good time to prune Currant Bushes and Gooseberry Bushes by cuttingback a third of the older stemsand removing any dead, diseased or damaged stems from the centre to allow good air-flow and reduce the chance of diseases. To maintain fruiting vigour for the coming season, runners should be removed from Strawberry plants. Also clear up the foliage by cutting back all the foliage or any dead or dying leaves, this will promote fresh and healthy growth to cover the crown of the plant over the winter.
Rhubarb Crowns can be dug up and divided, especially if they’re getting congested. Simply dig up the crown and chop into three pieces using a spade. You won’t damage it and, although it’s hard work, it’s worth it because each piece creates a brand new plant provided they have one or more buds. Replant in a hole slightly larger than the pieces of crown as the top of the crown should be approximately 2.5cm/1in below the surface of the soil.
Make sure you have planted your Autumn Bedding Plants and Spring Flowering Bulbs before the cold weather really sets in. Get them in sooner rather than later so that they can establish themselves before it gets too cold, then next spring you’ll be rewarded with a fine display of colour.
Tender plants such as Fuchsia and Geraniums need to be moved under protection and into the greenhouse before the cold winter damages them. Overwinter them with Fleece especially if your area gets really cold overnight. It’s important to remove any dead foliage too as this can cause diseases.
Unless border perennials have attractive stems or seed heads, which might be a source of food for birds, it’s a good time to cut them back especially if they have died down. These plants can be a haven for garden wildlife which use them as shelter during the cold winter. Many are garden friendly and will keep pest populations down, so you should really be encouraging them. However if your garden is really beginning to look like a mess then cut them back, after all you can always use Nemasys if needs be. Try and keep a corner of your garden for overwintering wildlife though.
It is the perfect time to sort things out, now that crops are harvested and plant debris and rubbish is the ideal place for pests and diseases to over winter. A clean garden now means a clean start in the New Year.
“Slugs will be out in force now the wet weather is arriving and you have a last chance of clearing away hibernating slugs with Nemaslug before the weather really turns cool”.
One job that you should really keep on top of this month is raking up all those dead leaves. Once collected you canadd them to the compost heap or put them in a bin bag liner with a few holes to help with in the bottom for drainage. Stick these bags out of the way and in about 18 months you’ll have leaf-mould. Use it to condition your soil or as a mulch.