Head of Horticulture Thomas Broom-Hughes offers 10 gardening tips for October...
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The nights are drawing in and October will see the clocks going back. There may even be a sprinkling of frost on some parts of the country. October is a busy month in the garden as we plant spring bulbs, clear borders and pot up winter containers. Here are my top ten gardening jobs for this month.
My ten gardening jobs for October
Think about bringing in any houseplants that have been outside. Acclimatise them slowly if you can, as some plants may get a shock if they are moving into a centrally heated room. Citrus should be moved into a bright room before the cold sets in.
Sweet peas can be sown into pots to over-winter in a sheltered position or a cold frame. October is still a good time to sow lawn seed and repair bare patches that have arrived during the summer - if you have any areas of lawn that have been damaged by pets, try cordoning off the area of lawn to allow it to recover and allow the seed to set down strong roots.
As the garden is tidied in preparation for winter, lots of material is generated for composting. To encourage it to rot down quickly, turn the contents regularly to stir it up and allow in lots of air. If your garden has trees it is worth saving the leaves to make leaf mould which is an excellent mulch for the garden.
Tender herbs, such as, basil, coriander, parsley, dill and mint cannot withstand frost and it is best to bring under cover before any autumn chill. Mint, parsley, thyme, and rosemary can be left in the garden and harvested throughout the colder months in some parts of the country.
After clearing and cutting back the borders, it is a good time to spread a mulch to help the more tender plants through the winter and to improve the organic structure of the soil.
From now until early winter is the time to prune roses, especially climbing roses. Reduce the size of the plant by about a third to prevent wind rock
Throughout the autumn and winter months you can plant or transplant both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs. During these months of dormancy, you can move shrubs and tree with minimal shock to the plants. During the colder months, plant new roses and hedging.
After you have finished harvesting your summer vegetables, plant a crop of green manures, for ploughing into the soil next spring. These nitrogen producing plants will provide good organic matter and food for your garden crops next year, as well as helping to control weeds over the winter.
Spring bulbs for forcing can be potted up now and stored in a cool, frost-free place until it is time to bring indoors, usually 12 to 15 weeks. There are lots of choices available to buy in garden centres; including Hyacinths, Narcissus and Amaryllis.
In the cut flower garden Dahlias and Chrysanthemums should still be producing lots of flowers. Roses may also produce their last flush of Autumnal blooms. Take advantage of the seed heads, hips and haws in the garden and hedgerow - create striking vase arrangements by mixing them with stems of perennials; for the "last floral fling".
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