October is the first month of the frosts and is the start of cold and stormy weather. It is a good time for general garden maintenance and is the last month of many harvests.
Rake any fallen leaves before they turn to mush. Collect into a leafmould frame of chicken wire.
Clean moss and algae off paths and driveways.
Bring in any garden furniture or heavy unused plant pots.
The last cut of the year might be at the end of the October when the soil is dry with no frost. Put the blade on a high setting to cut. Clean the mower and drain the fuel.
Lawn seed can still be sown as well as lawn moss control.
Greenhouse and Polytunnels
This time of the year the greenhouse will become colder and need protection. Use an indoor heater if keeping or growing plants during the winter. Remember that a heated greenhouse needs ventilation.
A non-electric way of heating is covering the entire frame with bubblewrap on the inside. It can increase the heat by a few degrees. Choose bubblewrap with large bubbles specifically for the greenhouse.
If not using over the winter, clean and clear the greenhouse. Take out any old plants and sweep out debris. Disinfect the main structure and shelving with greenhouse safe detergents.
Secure light plastic greenhouses from incoming stormy and windy weather.
Harvest carrots, courgettes, potatoes, pumpkins, cabbage before the first frost hits and store in a dry location. It’s the last chance to collect apples, pears, blackberries before they rot. Harvest runner and French beans before the end of the month
Tomatoes should be collected as it is unlikely that they will ripen further on the vine. Use them green for chutneys or fry them. To ripen, place on a sunny windowsill or store in a cardboard box with a banana to speed up the process. A better way to ripen is to take the whole plant out of the pot and hang upside down in a warm location.
Pot up and bring in basil, coriander, dill as they will die from frost. Bring in any other plants that suffer for frost. Remove yellow leaves from brussel sprouts or any brassicas.
What to sow
Garlic and broad beans can be planted at the end of October. Certain varieties of peas can be sown under a cloche. Hardy winter lettuce can be sown in the greenhouse or with protection. Some cauliflowers can be sown in a greenhouse for spring planting. Winter hardy spring onions can be sown under a cloche.
Plant bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses to see them in the spring.
Plants that have finished flowering can be cut back and tidied. Roses can be pruned and deciduous hedges can be trimmed.
Weeding and soil
Now is the time to do the last bit of weeding. Sow green manures in your beds. They will prevent new weeds from coming up and when fully grown, can be cut and dug into the soil. It gives the soil much needed nutrients and nitrogen.
Another weed preventing option is using mulch. You can use grass clippings and leaves to cover the soil to suppress weeds and give nutrition.
When dry, dig up the soil for the next season, removing any old plants. Check the plants to see if any have seeds to be collected.
Peas and beans roots can be left in the soil to provide nitrogen. Cut of the foliage and fork in the roots. You can spread homegrown compost over the soil in your beds or fork in manure.
Birds will start to struggle to find food now so fill a feeder with a varied seed mix. If you can, provide fresh water too. Keep the feeders clean and don’t overfill.
October- Read more monthly guides