Jobs For October

Here's a few ideas of what you could be doing this month...

Top Tip - Leafy business

There are a few things to remember when it comes to leaves in the autumn. Firstly, remove fallen autumn leaves from around plants such as alpines and smaller perennials to prevent diseases and to allow maximum light to reach plants. Once you've removed these leaves, collect any others floating about and put in to black plastic bin liners. When full, punch holes in the side and bottom, then tie up and put in a shady spot. In a year’s time use the leaf mould inside to mulch beds.

You should also remember to control fungal leaf spots on winter flowering pansies. Either pick off infected leaves or spray foliage with a suitable fungicide.

Autumn displays

Now is the ideal time to plant up your winter baskets and pots if you've not already done so. Pansies, cyclamen, polyanthus and violas are great for adding a splash of colour, and will continue blooming right through to the spring with a little attention, so a good investment in both money and time! Don't forget that if you're a little strapped for time to make them up, or don't know where to start, we've got a range of pre-planted options available from baskets to pots, so you're sure to find something to suit your taste.

Trees and shrubs

• Remove dead, diseased and dying branches from ornamental trees. Use a sharp, hand held pruning saw or secateurs to avoid leaving behind any snags or tears to the bark.
• Reduce the risk of blackspot on roses by removing leaves that fall around the base of plants, preventing spores of the fungal disease overwintering in the soil. Put them in the dustbin, not on the compost heap.
• Protect newly planted evergreens from wind scorch by surrounding plants with a temporary windbreak made with tree stakes and strong netting.
• Tie in wayward stems of climbers with garden twine before winds snap them off and spoil next year’s floral show. When tying, aim to fill the frame, trellis or support, bending and manipulating stems to cover any gaps.

In the kitchen garden

• Spuds that are still in the ground need lifting as soon as possible. Prise them up on a sunny day and let them dry off on the soil for an hour or so before storing in paper sacks or ventilated trays.
• Inspect stored fruit or vegetables, removing any that are soft or visibly mouldy to prevent rot spreading to healthy crops.
• Divide congested clumps of rhubarb. Lift with a spade then split into pieces, ensuring that each has at least one good bud. Plant 1m apart with the bud just above the level of the soil.
• Ensure you have great sprouts for your Christmas dinner by removing any yellowing leaves to improve air circulation. At the same time, help to support plants in windy weather by piling earth around stems or staking.
• Tidy up blackberries by cutting back any stems that carried fruit this year to ground level. Finish by tying in any new canes that grew this year.
• Control peach leaf curl disease on apricots and peaches by spraying trees with a copper based fungicide before the leaves fall.


• Buy rolls of turf to replace heavily worn areas of lawn. Prepare the ground well by digging and levelling with a rake. Remove any large stones as you go. Firm the soil with the back of the rake, then unroll each piece of turf on top, ensuring that edges are touching. Tap with a rake so it binds with the soil beneath.
• Keep off the lawn after a frost to avoid damaging grass, which could lead to unsightly fungal diseases.

Gardening under cover

• Pelargoniums planted in beds or grown in pots on the patio should be brought indoors. Cut them back hard with secateurs to 10cm and then store in a cool, light place, such as an unheated greenhouse or porch. Those lifted from the soil should be potted up into containers filled with John Innes No.1 compost.
• Be prepared for falling temperatures by checking the thermostat of electric greenhouse heaters and buying fuel for those that run on paraffin.
• To prevent grey mould establishing, aim to water greenhouse plants in the morning so that the air is dry by evening.
• Cut down on the amount of water you give to houseplants, allowing the compost to almost dry before giving them more.
• Close greenhouse vents and doors in mid-afternoon to trap in warmth and keep plants snug overnight.

Make more plants

• Take hardwood cuttings of dogwoods, willows and blackcurrants. Cuttings need to be 15cm long, with a slanted cut above a bud and a straight cut below. Push into the ground, 7.5cm deep, or into pots filled with gritty compost. Plant into individual containers next autumn.

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