Gardening with Children

Family Zone

Things to do in the garden in October

Date Posted: 01 October 2014

Autumn is here, the nights are becoming colder and the days are getting noticeably shorter. Trees and plants are starting to show off their spectacular red, orange and yellow leaves and their bounty of fruits, berries and nuts, what a glorious month!
Make the most of any pleasant autumn days as there are still plenty of

jobs to do in the garden in October.

General Jobs
  • Use bricks to raise containers off the ground to prevent waterlogging during the winter.
  • Install a water diverter on your drainpipe into a water butt to collect rain this autumn and winter.
  • Prevent house gutters from filling up with leaves and moss by installing Hedgehog Gutter Guards great for sheds and greenhouses too. Hedgehog Gutter Guard
  • After harvesting crops tidy up and remove any leaf debris, weeds etc and recycle in the Compost Bin, if left it can harbour pests and diseases, then fork over incorporating a general slow release fertiliser ready for your next crop or
  • Dig over empty beds to let the frost break down the soil over the winter or 
  • In mild areas until mid October sow green manure (mustard, clover, rye grass) in empty beds, these will grow and can be dug in in the spring, they will improve the soil, add nutrients and keep the weeds at bay.
  • Collect fallen leaves and turn them into wonderful leaf mould by storing them in a Copious Leaf Composter and Garden Store or a Jumbo Leaf Mould Compost Bin in a corner of the garden, buy a pair of Handy Hands Leaf Collectors or Long Handled Leaf Grabbers to make the job easier. 
  • Invest in a new Compost Bin or add a Module or a Leaf Mould Composting Module to your existing one to contain your extra waste vegetation, hedge clippings, grass cuttings and leaves over the next few months.
  • Turn the compost in your compost bins regularly with a Compost Pitchfork to speed up decomposition and add a Compost Duvet to retain the heat and look after your worms. Jumbo Leaf Mould Compost Bin
  • Check that plants and trees are supported/tied in to avoid wind damage.
  • Leave seed heads to mature and on a dry day collect ripe seed placing in paper bags to store and sow in the spring.
  • If your vegetable hanging baskets, wall baskets and containers have finished, plant with spring flowers (Primulas, Polyanthus, Pansies, Violas) Ivy and bulbs for a cheerful winter/spring display, use the old compost as a mulch on the garden. Choose larger plants for a better display as they will not grow much during the winter months.
  • Continue planting spring flowering bulbs (daffodils, crocus and hyacinth, alliums, fritillaries), buy them now, pick ones that are firm and show no signs of damage or disease, plant in containers, borders or naturalise them in the lawn.
  • Protect ripening Blackberries/Loganberries/Autumn Raspberries with netting.
  • Cut back old canes of Blackberries and Loganberries when they have finished fruiting and tie in this year’s new growth.
  • If you want to plant bare root fruit trees and bushes (currants/gooseberries) now is the perfect time as the soil is warm.
  • Plant new bare root Raspberry canes, Autumn varieties are better for school gardens as they will produce fruit during term time.
  • Plant new Rhubarb Crowns or divide and replant old crowns.
  • Remove and put away netting from fruit cages and fruit bushes when the crops have finished.
  • Once harvesting of stone fruit has finished remove dead, damaged and diseased wood from trees, prune central shoots back by a quarter and sideshoots back to 3 buds apply a top dressing of organic fertiliser and a mulch, use a good pair of ladders to reach the top branches safely. 
  • Dig up outdoor tomato plants, cut off the trusses and bring them inside to ripen.
  •  Strawberry tablePlant up a new Strawberry bed using the runners that you have rooted, Strawberries prefer a sunny position, don’t replant in an area where they have previously been grown. Strawberries are perfect plants to grow in Raised Beds, Planters, large pots, or Strawberry Bags.
  • Support heavily laden fruit trees and bushes to prevent the branches breaking.
  • Remove any rotting fruit on your fruit trees to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Prune currant bushes by removing a third of the old dark wood as close to the ground as possible as well as any dead, diseased or dying wood, allowing air into the bushes and encouraging new healthy stems.
  • Plant Autumn garlic bulbs and continue to plant over wintering onion sets.
  • Remove leaves of Pumpkin/Squash plants that are shading the fruit to allow the fruits to ripen, and harvest before the first frosts place in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill to ripen for storage.
  • After you have harvested your beans and peas put the stems in the compost bin but leave the roots in the ground to rot down and release their nitrogen. Put away their growing supports for next year.
  • Sow Autumn varieties of Broad Bean (Aquadulce) for an early crop next year, protect with fleece or cloches.
  • Support Brussels Sprouts plants and other brassicas as they become top heavy, and net to protect from pigeons, remove any lower yellow leaves.
  • Cover Cauliflower heads with fleece, a cloche or their leaves to protect from frost. 
  • Cut off the tops of Asparagus and Jerusalem Artichokes when the foliage turns brown and apply mulch around their base.
  • Potato Havesting SacksCheck stored potatoes, onions and garlic and remove any that are rotting, store potatoes in Hessian Sacks which will allow them to breathe.
  • Reduce watering of Tomatoes, Cucumber and Peppers to encourage the remaining fruits to ripen.
In the Greenhouse / Polytunnel / On your Windowsill / In the Propagator
  • Pot up mint and parsley to use over winter on the windowsill.
  • Move tender plants and containers planted with Christmas potatoes into the greenhouse before the first frosts, check for pests (slugs, snails and aphids) and remove any dead or diseased foliage first.
  • Insulate your greenhouse with bubblewrap ready for the winter.
  • Sow sweet peas this month for early flowers next year, sow into rootrainers as they have long roots, keep in the greenhouse or cold frame and protect with fleece on frosty nights.
  • Close vents, windows and doors in late afternoon to keep in the warmth overnight to aid ripening.
  • Start to tidy out and clean your greenhouse and its contents, old compost, dirty pots and decaying plant material can harbour unwanted pests and diseases.
  • Reduce the amount of water given to Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Peppers to encourage ripening
  • Harvest Autumn Raspberries, Blackberries, Loganberries.
  • Tubby Stack Pack Wooden Storage BoxesHarvest Chard and Leaf Beet, Autumn Cabbages, Cauliflowers, Kales, Broccoli, and Leeks.
  • Harvest root crops Beetroots, Carrots, Parsnips, Turnips and store in Wooden Storage Boxes in layers of damp sand/compost in a frost free dark place.
  • Pumpkin and squash see above ‘Vegetables’.
  • The last Runner Beans see above ‘Vegetables’.
  • Harvest remaining Sweetcorn and Courgettes before the frosts.
  • Pick apples, pears, plums and damsons, checking for wasps who also find them irresistible, make life easier for those hard to reach fruit use a Quicker Apple and Fruit Picker, or for windfalls an Apple Wizard.
  • Fruit and Vegetable StoreStore apples that are not damaged and pest and disease free in a cool dark place, eat the rejects or make into chutneys, pies, or crumbles which can be frozen. Check regularly for any rotting fruit.
  • Pick greenhouse Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Aubergines.
  • Harvest sweet and chilli peppers by cutting off the fruit rather than pulling or twisting as the stems are brittle and can snap easily.
  • Continue to feed birds encouraging them into your garden they in return will eat a lot of your pests. Provide fresh water in your bird baths for the birds to drink and bathe in, regularly clean bird tables, feeders and bird baths.
  • Bugs Alive Insect TowerLook after beneficial insects such as Lacewings and Ladybirds, put up some bug houses in your garden to help them through the winter.
  • Put out food and water for hedgehogs to give them a boost and help them gain the weight they need to hibernate.
  • Install a Hedgehog House in a wild and quiet corner of your garden to provide a safe place for hedgehogs to sleep and hibernate during winter.
  • Put windfall apples in a Wooden Apple Bird Feeder  for smaller birds; leave some apples where they fall for the ground feeding birds.
  • If the thought of spiders is a bit scary why not invest in a Catcha BUG to safely remove the large house spiders that usually appear indoors in Autumn.
  • Wildlife World Bee & Bug BiomePut up a Pollinating Bee Log, Bee and Bug Biome or a Solitary Bee Hive to provide a home for Solitary Bees.
  • Look after our Butterflies, Moths and Bees by providing a Butterfly and Moth Feeder or a Butterfly/Bee Nectar Feeding Station which will give them a welcome autumn food supply.
  • Check and clean pond filters so that they don’t get blocked up with Algae. Remove any blanket weed or excess pond weed leaving it by the side overnight to allow any creatures to return to the water.
  • Cover garden ponds with net in preparation for Autumn falling leaves, and cut back marginal plants as they will die back and taint the water.
  • Conservation Bat BoxWith Halloween at the end of the month we are reminded of one of our more secretive and fascinating native mammals - the Bat, now is a good time to put up a conservation or double chamber bat box for them to roost in over the cold winter months.

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