Autumn reaches its’ peak in October. The colours are at their best, not yet spoiled by wind & rain. There’s still a reasonable amount of daylight & the light is low & soft, making autumn colours glow beautifully. It’s worth bearing in mind that when you plant for autumn colour, place the plant so that it is backlit by the the setting sun.
There is an inevitable march towards winter…. but first there are treats.
The ordering & planting of spring flowering bulbs, such good value. Plant them in the garden, in pots for the front door, boxes by the back door & in small pots to give away next year to friends – Iris reticulata & Narcissus tete-a-tete are particularly good for this.
Remember to leave tulip planting until November or even December.
Clearance is best kept to a minimum. Cutting & edging the grass, sweeping leaves from paths & lawns is all the tidying that needs to be done to keep everything looking good.
Plan any planting of trees, shrubs & hedging, because the bare-root season is almost here. Bare root plants are a much cheaper alternative to those sold in pots, & because the roots haven’t been constrained by pots, they seem to get away & grow more quickly. Whichever you decide to use, plan & order now.
Move tender plants, pelargoniums & the like into the greenhouse. I housed my favourite Pelargonium sidoides in the greenhouse last winter, & it almost didn’t survive. This winter its coming inside to live on a cool window-sill.
There’s a different approach to clearing the vegetable plot/allotment from the ornamental part of the garden.
Old foliage & plant debris needs to be cleared away & piled in the compost bin, unless it’s diseased. Bare soil is unnatural in nature & it’s easily degraded by rain, but easily solved by sowing green manure. October is a bit late for sowing, but our garden is quite sheltered, so there’s a good chance it’ll be fine. Green manures are plants that cover the soil, add nutrients & are dug back into the soil at the end of the winter to improve its’ structure.
You can buy different types depending on the time of year.
Garlic – Two reasons to plant garlic now
- an earlier crop next year,
- and it benefits from a winter frost.
Plan the planting so it’s not growing in the same bed as last year.
I don’t use shop bought garlic, ( thanks Martin for reminding me in your comment below!) its origin isn’t always on the label & if its from Spain it may not do well in our colder climate. Once you’ve had a good crop, you can save some of the plumpest cloves to plant & keep the garlic cycle going. A nice sustainable solution.
I’m planting garlic & sowing broad beans this month. Aquadulce is a good hardy variety of broad bean that’ll survive winter. There’s a second chance to sow broad beans in March if you don’t get round to it now.
Spinach & kale are doing well here, netted against pigeons, they’ll be the mainstay of the vegetable patch this winter.
all photos: Jill Anderson