October Gardening

The nights are drawing in, October will see the clocks going back, and possibly the first frosts of winter. Gardening time might feel curtailed by the shorter sunlight, however there are plenty of tasks to complete. As the leaves change into their brilliant autumn colours you realise that winter is just around the corner.
Top Tip: Collect leaves to make leaf mould, an invaluable soil conditioner. Collect leaves from the lawn using a mower, as this not only shreds the leaves and hastens rotting but also adds grass clippings, so increasing the nutrient value of the leaf mould. Place the leaves into a bin liner, moisten them if they are dry, then pierce holes in the bag with a knife or garden fork, tie the top loosely and stack the bags out of sight for up to two years.
10 minute jobs:
• Protect half-hardy plants with fleece, or move into a frost-free greenhouse.
• Lift Dahlia & Begonia tubers to store dry over winter
• After tidying borders mulch with bark chips or compost.
• Wrap glue bands around the trunks of apple trees to trap winter moth females whose caterpillars shred spring flowers
• Prune back tall shrubs such as buddleia to prevent wind rock.
• Move conifers and evergreens that are growing in the wrong place.
Sow Now: Directly sow hardy annuals into prepared borders for earlier flowers in 2021. Broad beans and Winter peas can also be sewn now.
Plant Now: Be ruthless, and turf out summer bedding plants (even if they are still looking good) Pansies are more likely to flower over winter if they have a chance to become established before the colder weather halts growth.
Feature on: Roses
If you give your roses some care during autumn, they will get safely through the winter, coming back healthy, vigorous and full of flowers next year.
Step 1
Snip off any soggy, shrivelled blooms to prevent rot setting in. But just remove the petals from any that are starting to form hips, so you can enjoy their winter display.
Step 2
Pick off and bin any remaining foliage that shows signs of disease, such as black spot, mildew or rust. Also collect any infected leaves that have fallen on to the ground, as these can carry over diseases from one year to the next. Don’t be tempted to compost the leaves.
Step 3
Autumn is a good time to transplant any roses that are in the wrong position. You can also plant new ones, as they’ll have time to get established before winter arrives. When planting the graft union should be just below the surface of the soil. If you are planting a container grown rose, fill around the root ball with compost and firm in, to dispel air pockets. If you are planting bare root plants, ensure that the roots are not damaged as you carefully backfill with compost. We always recommend planting roses with Mycorrhizal Fungi. It helps to create better root systems, resulting in greater vigour, higher resistance to drought and more abundant flowering. The broad mix of fungi stimulates root growth, creating a secondary root system which encourages the uptake of nutrients from the soil.
Step 4
Prune out dead, damaged or crossing stems from shrub roses in autumn. Aim to create an open-centred framework to encourage good air-flow through the plant.
Step 5
Shorten the stems of tall bush roses to reduce wind-rock during winter gales, as this can loosen and damage the roots. Cut stems just above an outward-facing bud wherever possible. Thin out the heads of standard roses (shaped like lollipops, on a single tall stem). Their rounded heads can catch the wind and even snap off completely in a severe storm.
Whatever October brings I hope you’re able to spend some time in your garden.
Rachel Sobiechowski BSc(Hons), P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon, IP27 0PW
Tel: 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk

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