2nd August 2021
Collect leaves this way once a week - any longer and the grass will start to grow long and get harder to cut.
As the garden is tidied in preparation for winter, lots of material is generated for composting. To encourage it to rot down quickly, turn the contents regularly to stir it up and allow in lots of air.
In the colder weather, the rate of decomposition will naturally decrease, but it will soon speed up during warmer spells.
Weeds will still be germinating and growing strongly in mild periods of weather, so be vigilant and remove them when you see them. Try to dig them out rather than pulling them up, as you’re more likely to get them out with roots and all that way.
October usually marks the start of the leaf-falling season. It’s fine to leave them on borders. However, on paths and hard surfaces, it’s best to gather them straight away as they can be very slippery, especially when the weather is wet. You can clear leaves off the lawn by running over them with a lawn mower.
Wipe clean the glass and polythene of any plant-growing structures to increase light reaching plants. It makes a big difference in the dull winter months and will stop your plants growing tall and spindly in their search for light.
After any last harvests, weed thoroughly and spread a 3-5cm-deep layer of compost, although new beds can have up to 10cm deep. This protects and feeds soil organisms, which keep soil aerated and structured. Homemade compost is best, but you haven’t got enough, buy in green-waste compost, spent mushroom compost or well-rotted manure. These can be ordered online and delivered to your house.
Break the bulb into individual cloves and push into the soil– use a trowel to avoid damaging them –so the tip is just covered. Space the cloves 15cm apart in rows 30cm apart, so it will be easy to hoe off weeds.
If you sowed spring cabbage four to six weeks ago, or can buy some plants, early October is excellent for planting them out. Make sure you cover them with netting or mesh to protect them against and r.
Greenhouse crops, such as , are past their best by October, so remove the old plants and put them in the . If you have any green tomatoes, we found the best method for ripening them is to put them in a dark place with a gentle, room-temperature level of warmth, such as in a kitchen drawer.
Winter salads sown in module trays in September should now be large enough to plant out. It’s best to grow them undercover, whether in a cold greenhouse or outdoors under fleece or insect-proof mesh. First, cover the beds with a 3-5cm deep layer of mulch, then space plants 20cm apart as they’re cropped over a long period, from Novemberto early May.
If you haven't already planted some containers with spring colour, there's still time to plant now using bedding plants such as violas and wallflowers, plus spring-flowering bulbs.
Keep your pots in a sheltered spot, such as under a porch, to encourage blooms through the winter and to avoid plants rotting off in the winter wet. Cyclamen and ornamental cabbage are particularly vulnerable to rotting in damp conditions.
You won't get masses of blooms during colder weather, but any milder spells should see a good show.
If you've got tender plants, such as canna, now's the time to bring them indoors before they get killed by the frost.
Choose a light, frost-free place such as a greenhouse or coldframe. Then keep them on the dry side during the winter, so they don't put on much growth.
The plants can then be brought back into growth in spring by gradually increasing the amount of water they receive.
Cut back any plants that have started to look past their best. Ones with seedheads can be left to help feed birds over winter.
Summer bedding is past its best by now, and it’s time to pull it up and put it on the compost heap. You can then mulch the bare soil with compost for the worms to drag into the soil and improve it over winter. It will then be ready for you to start over in spring.
Plant early varieties of hyacinths by early October. Put them in a cool (10°C), dark place until the shoots are about 5cm, before bringing them into the house.
Plant an early variety of hippeastrum (amarylis) by mid-October. Bigger bulbs produce the best show. Pot them into pots 2-3cm wider than the bulb. Water sparingly until the leaves develop.
Dahlias will flower until the frosts eventually blacken the foliage so encourage your plants to produce a beautiful display of blooms by removing the old flowers as they fade. The deadheads can go in the .