Written by: Cally Worden
The weather outside may be becoming a bit frightful, but October is a lovely month for indulging in garden activities that will help your outdoor space bed happily down for winter. Taking care of some general maintenance tasks now will make your garden a pleasant environment throughout the cold months, and prepare it perfectly for a lively launch back into Spring.
Rake your Leaves
Leaves are a valuable commodity that your garden produces for you completely free. Rake up fallen leaf crops and deposit them into a simple supportive frame. Over the course of a year (or two for certain leaves, such as oak) the leaves break down and rot, and your garden treasure trove will deliver you a mound of glorious leaf mould. This makes a great alternative to peat, and a lovely top-dressing for many woodland plants. And raking itself will give you a great workout – free exercise too, what could be better?!
Create a Compost Heap
If you don’t already have a compost bin or area in your garden now is the time to create one. After a busy growing season, your garden plants will generate masses of rich organic waste that can be harnessed and transformed into a hearty compost with which to feed your garden in the Spring. Anything from hedge trimmings to grass cuttings can be chucked on the heap, and provided you avoid adding anything diseased or which has been attacked by pests, and that you turn the compost once a week or so, you will be rewarded with a beautiful crumbly compost after just a few short months.
Your soil is home to all of your precious plants and it needs feeding if it is to be able to support them adequately. October is the time to dig compost, manure and any organic-rich matter into your earth. Also an ideal workout, digging now before the frosts set in will make this task infinitely easier.
Clean out your Greenhouse
Clearing out your inside-outdoor growing space will make your life simpler when you begin to sow new seedlings in the Spring. It also gives you chance to remove any pests that may be planning to hibernate in this protected space over winter, and avoid them wrecking your Spring planting plan. Disinfecting windows, frames and benches, and the hosing everything down thoroughly should do the trick.
Bulbs, perennials, fruit bushes and other container shrubs will all welcome the chance to be planted in the warm, moist soil of mid-Autumn. Bedding these plants down now will give them chance to settle before winter, and make them ready to burst into life next Spring.
Be careful to make any freshly planted items remain moist, particularly if your area experiences some unseasonably dry spells. Clearing an area of soil around established trees and shrubs is also wise, as this helps to ensure moisture can be easily absorbed and reaches the roots well.
Spruce up your Borders
Clear and burn any diseased material from your borders, and any fallen matter that has clearly been attacked by pests. Trim back plants, removing any dead or dying matter, and weed as much as you can to leave your way clear for an easy run into Spring.