October Gardening Tips 2022
After the solemn events of September, we slip gently into autumn properly in October, with the shortening days, the mists and the scent of the damp soil, grass and turning foliage.
But autumn is a time of hope for us gardeners too. Nature’s time to plant – surely the most exciting of gardening activities. The soil is nice and warm and also contains the moisture needed to give plants the very best start. So if you have any gaps in your garden, perhaps as a result of the long dry summer weather, now is the perfect time to plant roses, deciduous trees and shrubs, climbers, fruit trees and bushes – anything hardy can be planted now. Plants that are put in during the autumn really do get off to a much better start than those that are planted in spring.
I have an annual weakness for spring flowering bulbs. I have to walk by them every day in the garden centre and I am sorely tempted each year. From the first snowdrops to the last tulips and anemones, a carefully chosen selection of bulbs will flower for almost five months, at least into May. Bulbs make a particularly good combination with winter pansies, wallflowers and forget-me-nots. There are bulbs for all situations, from naturalising in grass to borders, pots and window boxes and even for indoors. Make sure that you plant the bulbs deep enough (the packet will indicate the planting depth). If not the result will be adequate in the first year but may be disappointing thereafter. This is a particular issue with tulips which require a planting depth of about 15cm. there is more advice on particular types of bulbs and how to choose and plant them our website and in our video. Planting bulbs in the autumn is a real money saver too at a fraction of the cost of buying containers of bulbs in the spring.
For a quick fix of autumn colour, maybe for your doorstep or to fill a gap, chrysanthemums are a great choice giving you a ball of abundant flower. Delicate garden cyclamen are always cheerful. Pansies are good value and will flower now until the height of winter when they pause before getting going again in the early spring.
Lawns have suffered a bit over the dry summer months. Ours is growing at pace now and still in need of an occasional mow. Increase the height of your mower blades for the final cuts of the year. Scarify by giving the lawn a good rake to remove dead material and encourage the grass to thicken by developing runners and side shoots. Apply an autumn lawn dressing to promote root development and strengthen the grass to withstand the rigours of winter. The formula differs from spring lawn food designed to promote the roots rather than soft green shoots. It is also a good time to sow grass seed or lay turf.
Do collect fallen leaves from the garden, when composted, they make such wonderful leaf mould for mulching. And it is a good time to dig over the vegetable patch to open up the soil so that air and water may penetrate. Incorporate garden compost or composted manure in preparation for next spring and the cornucopia to come.
I hope you enjoy this season of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ to the full.