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October Jobs for the Garden

September was such a glorious month in the garden with warm sunny days and above average temperatures but October is the month of rapid changes – higher winds, rain and a definite nip in the air at night. There is a beauty to October with the leaves just changing their colours and certain trees are more beautiful at this time than any other.

Lawns

Autumn leaves may look spectacular on trees but as soon as you see a scattering on your lawn, rake them up for the compost. Even if there is no room for a compost heap, putting the leaves into a black polythene bag and leaving for a year or so will result in excellent crumbly leaf-mould just perfect for mulching.

Any bare patches in your lawn can be repaired with either turf, cut to fit, or a scattering of grass seed which should germinate within a week or two. If using seed remember to safeguard the area from birds and any other little creatures that may walk on it.

When mowing your lawn in autumn raise the blades to at least two inches in height which will keep the lawn neat and give the grass some protection.

garden covered in leaves with a rake

Dahlias

These attractive flowers may not be hardy enough to stay in the ground over winter unless you live in a warm sheltered part of the country, and even then they should have a deep mulch to protect against the worst of the winter cold and wet.

It’s much better to lift them after the first frost has blackened their leaves. Cut off the entire stem, leaving a six inch stump, and then gently dig them out taking care not to damage the tubers. Shake off the soil and store the tubers in trays in a frost free place.

picture of showing blooming dahlias

Winter containers and window boxes

Containers and window boxes can be just as beautiful in the winter as in the summer. You can’t get the flamboyant colours as in petunias, pelagoniums and fuchsias but with the low light levels and weaker sunshine, the subtle, restrained colours of winter pansies and foliage look all the more charming.  Try to plant spring bulbs, such as snowdrops, iris, crocus and miniature narcissus, underneath your planting to give additional colour in the spring.

 

box of brightly coloured flowers outside a window

Hardy annual flowers to sow

Most people sow their annual flower seeds in spring but there are many that can be sown now to produce earlier flowers next year. Here is a selection of “bone hardy” varieties that will give you a colourful display next year.

Herbs for a windowsill

Herbs planted outdoors will now be finishing, however you can have fresh herbs in the winter indoors.  Take for example, mint. Carefully slice through the garden plant with a sharp spade or hand trowel and remove a small portion complete with roots. This can then be potted up in a decorative container and placed on a light, warm windowsill. Use this method for almost any hardy herb.

bowl of freshly picked mint

October is the month for digging, clearing and tidying the garden. Rough dig and leave the frost to do the hard work. The action of freezing, thawing and re-freezing will break down the clods and result in a fine seed bed for the spring. Don’t be too enthusiastic in the borders as the seed heads of some flowers look beautiful in the winter especially decorated with hoar frost. Enjoy this time of reflection!

Published October 9th, 2014 by Jordan. Article ref 3217

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