Not only is there a lot of lifting and clearing of summer flowering items to be done during the month of October, but many flower and vegetable varieties can be sown at this time. Also there is still time to tend to the lawn.
In milder areas final sowings of grass seed can be made early in the month, provided soil and weather conditions are suitable. Apply an autumn fertiliser to established lawns. Growth is now slowing down and the final mowing should be made. Remove any leaves that have fallen onto the lawn and add them to the compost heap.
Sow sweet peas in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse to overwinter planting outdoors in March or April to produce early blooms. In the heated greenhouse sow cyclamen seeds. For colourful displays indoors during Christmas and New Year plant containers with prepared hyacinth bulbs early in the month, and towards the middle of the month plant narcissus. Plant up winter hanging baskets and containers using myosotis, pansy, polyanthus, primrose, dwarf wallflowers and spring flowering bulbs.
Gladioli bulbs should be lifted as soon as possible for drying before any soil is cleaned away and the old foliage and flower spikes are cut back. They can now be stored until late spring when replanting can take place. Dahlias can also be lifted and stored once the foliage has gone black from the first frosts. The hollow stems can be cut down to approximately 10cm (4”) above the tuber. Any water should be allowed to drain by standing the tuber upside down and store under frost-free conditions.
Plantings of bulbs that are to give displays in the spring can be continued especially for hyacinths, crocuses and daffodils.
Plant garlic bulbs using a suitable variety such as Solent Wight, Onions Early Crop and Swift can be planted during October and November. In sheltered areas make sowings of Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia towards the end of the month. Lift and store root crops such as carrots, beetroot and potatoes. Cut down asparagus to near ground level.
October is a good month for preparing the ground for planting soft fruit. Select a well drained, sunny position that is not prone to late frosts. Dig over the area incorporating well rotted farm-yard manure or garden compost removing all perennial weed roots. Erect supports for cane fruits such as raspberries. As the berries of late fruiting varieties of blackberries ripen they should be picked, and to keep the birds off the canes a netting should be used as protection. The canes can then be cut back to soil level and this year’s new canes should be tied in.
If at all possible any tender perennials, such as Fuchsias, which are in containers should be moved into the greenhouse for the winter so as to give protection from low temperatures that can occur at night in some parts of the country. Also at this time, similar types of plants that have been grown in borders should be very carefully lifted, potted up and placed where they will be protected from the cold. Remember to trim back any leggy or tall top growth that may have been left as this will avoid any damage being caused.