Top Tips

Katie Rushworth's Top Tip

Dig up any dahlias or cannas you have had in the garden after the first frosts have hit them. Cut them back, lift them from the soil and store them somewhere dry, dark and frost free. Ready to plant up next Spring.

David Domoney's Top Tip

Plant your autumn bulbs for spring and summer flowers in borders, pots, and containers, and you can even plant spring bulbs into your lawn to naturalise them for delightful flowers, especially crocuses and daffodils.

Frances Tophill's Top Tip

October is a great time to sow some grass seeds to patch up the lawn. Mix the seeds with a little soil or compost and sprinkle over raked patches then water and protect from birds. You could try adding a little wild flower seed and get a meadow started for next year!

The team answer some topical questions below:

Katie Rushworth

 

What plants should I prune in October? 

October is the time to prune roses, I tend to take them down by a third at this time of year, always cut the stem on a diagonal just above a bud that faces outwards. Prune out anything that is weak, damaged or looks diseased. The aim is to create a nice open framework, this will make sure there is good air circulation around the plant.

What is autumn lawncare? What’s the benefit in putting this down at this time? 

Our lawns can look quite tired after Summer but now is the perfect time to do any repair work and get them looking tip top for next year. With temperatures still mild and the soil still warm any treatments still have time to take effect before the Winter. Remove any moss with a leaf rake, then any areas that are particularly compacted or have been waterlogged can be aerated - I use a garden fork for this, simply push deeply into the soil every 20cm or so, this creates air pockets which you then brush lawn top dressing into. Lastly it’s also a good idea to apply an Autumn lawn weed and feed product.

What veg can be planted in October? What’s your favourite top 5? 

You can get winter growing varieties of peas, cauliflowers and lettuces. Broad beans can also be sown as can mixed salad leaves. 

 

  • Snowball Cauliflower

  • Douche Provence Peas

  • Winter Gem Lettuce

  • Diana Radishes

  • Aquadulce Claudia Broad Beans

 

David Domoney

 

What veg plants can be harvested? How do I know I’ve been successful? 

A clear contender for October harvests are pumpkins, whether big or small they can be used as decorations for Halloween or used in desserts and dishes. You’ll know they are ready to harvest when the fruit has matured and turned fully orange – once harvested leave their skins to harden in the sun, which is called curing. Quick maturing veg like carrots can be sown regularly in small groups for a continuous supply, so they can be harvested from May right through to December and they’ll be ready for harvest between 12 and 16 weeks after sowing. Check them by removing some of the soil around the plant to see their size and colour. Apples are a great October harvest, and likely to be the last month to pick them, you’ll have to take a bite to check if they’re ripe! 

Can I do anything with all the leaves I am raking up from my lawn? 

Yes! You can either add them to your compost heap as a ‘brown’ material supplying carbon to the mix, but it’s best to add them in little piles rather than all at once. Or you can make leaf mould which is made by the leaves breaking down over a long period of time, which is eventually used as a soil improver. Alternatively, put the leaves into a hessian bag and leave it behind the shed, leaving them to break down – the material of the bag will allow moisture to get in to mix with the leaves.

What should I do with my herbaceous plants now they have finished flowering? 

Giving your beds and borders a little tidy up in autumn will improve flowering and make the areas look their best, until next growing season. Deadheading bedding plants by removing spent flowers by hand is the easiest method, you can do the same with shrubs and climbers too. Removing the flowers will redirect the plants energy into stronger growth and more blooms.

Frances Tophill

 

What's best to plant in October? What’s your favourite top 5?

Now we’re really getting into the best time for planting perennials. It’s still warm in the ground, giving them time to settle in, but it’s not really hot so newly planted specimens won’t get too stressed by drought while they’re establishing. Any perennial flowers will be perfect for autumn planting.

  • Geraniums 

  • Astrantia 

  • Sanguisorba

  • Rudbeckia 

  • Verbena 

What seeds can I sow this month?

Start your autumn sowings of things like peas, sweet peas, broad beans and a last crop of salad leaves.

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