Archive for the ‘October’ Category


Jobs for October 2016


Thanks to a nice bit of high pressure over our part of the country, the start of October looks like it’s going to remain dry and sunny, at least for the moment. Cool nights and sunny, blue-sky days are great conditions for showing off the autumnal leaf colours at their best. There’s still lots of interest in the garden and still plenty to do. Here are a few jobs to get you thinking;

1. Continue to cut back any dead growth or flower spikes from perennials such as sedums, you might be able to see signs of new growth at the base.

2. Now is a good time to start thinking about giving your lawns some TLC with an autumn lawn treatment. Rake out any thatch of dead brown grass and improve drainage by spiking or aerating. On heavy soils brush sand into the holes to improve drainage and on light sandy soils brush in compost or top soil to improve the moisture retention. If the weather permits you can keep mowing for a few weeks to keep the lawns sharp.

3. Try to keep on top of the leaves if you can, especially if they are on the lawn as they can turn the grass yellow if left to rot. Don’t get too worried about leaves on your flower beds as these will eventually rot down or you can dig them in giving extra nutrients. Diseased leaves should be burnt to stop any infection from carrying over to next year.

4. We try to give roses a light autumn prune, just to put them to bed before Christmas. If you prune down by a third it will stop wind rock which can reduce the rigour of the plant. Rake up and burn old rose leaves, especially if infected with black spot.

5. Tidy up Buddleias now that they have finished flowering. Cut back by a third, just above a pair of leaves. You can cut them back hard in March.

6. Keep lifting and dividing perennials such as Michaelmas Daisies, Alchemila, Campanula and Phlox if required.

7. As deciduous trees are now becoming dormant you can start planting new fruit trees and ornamentals. Peaches and nectarines always do better if planted in the early autumn when the soil is still reasonably warm, apples and pears aren’t so fussy.

8. Now for the ‘f’ word. If frosts have destroyed the last of the summer bedding or you are just fed up with them, pull them up and get rid of them. Think about planting autumn / winter bedding such as Violas and pansies, Bellis, Cyclamen and wall flowers. Pansies and Violas always do better if planted early autumn and I always prefer Violas to pansies as they flower better, look neater and don’t need so much dead heading.

9. Raise your pots up with pot feet to stop them sitting in water over the winter and give some of your more tender plants a bit of protection. If we get some harsh frosts remember that you need to properly fleece your plants; one layer of fleece is not enough you need several layers and cover the pot itself as well.

10. Keep planting spring bulbs, especially daffodils, they always do better when planted Sept / Oct. Tulips can wait until November.

11. Order bare-root plants such as roses, hedging plants and trees for autumn planting. You’ll save money compared to container grown.

12. In the veg garden, harvest your pumpkins and squashes. Once cut you will help storage if you leave them in the sun for a couple of days to let the skins harden before storing somewhere cool, dark and dry.

13. If your tomatoes are still refusing to turn red, try pulling them up and hanging them upside down in the greenhouse or somewhere bright. It should help them to ripen.

Hurray for Halloween – It’s Pumpkin time

Pumpkins are one of our most colourful autumnal fruits and at this time of year the supermarkets are full of them. For some growers in certain parts of the country this year has been poor for pumpkins with cold weather and cold winds in the summer resulting in slow growth and small fruit. Fortunately, for most growers (especially squash growers) it’s been a good year.





Part of the cucurbit family, which also includes cucumbers and squashes, pumpkins are really easy to grow yourself.

For best results sow from seed indoors in mid-late April. Sow the seeds on their side 1-2cm deep in small pots into moist compost and then when they have started to grow and put on roots plant them outside into their final position once the daytime temperatures warm up in June. Alternatively, you can also sow the seed direct outdoors in late May – early June. If you don’t fancy growing from seed you can just buy ready–grown seedlings from garden centres in the spring. Pumpkins need a sunny position, away from cold winds and a moisture retentive soil and once planted you mustn’t let them dry out. Space the plants about 1-2metres apart, depending on the variety, to allow enough room for them to grow. You can also grow them in a grow bags, one plant per grow bag. As they are pollinated by insects, pumpkins can suffer in a cool summer when insect activity is reduced but they usually bounce back when it warms up again.

When the fruit starts to swell it’s a good idea to feed with tomato feed every 2 weeks to give them a boost. You’ll find that most pumpkins and squashes develop powdery mildew towards the end of the summer and early autumn but generally it isn’t worth controlling as it doesn’t affect the fruit. Remove any leaves that are overshadowing the fruit so that it gets as much light as possible.

Harvest from September to October and store somewhere cool and dry. In a warm, wet autumn, it’s sometimes a good idea to wipe them with a mild disinfectant  or steriliser (such as Milton fluid) to stop them from rotting too quickly once picked.

Great varieties to try:
‘Atlantic Giant’ – A very large ‘American-style’ pumpkin with pale orange flesh, a great choice for allotments and for showing.
‘Jack of all Trades’– a reliable choice which produces classic, medium-sized, bright orange pumpkins ideal for carving and great for soups.
‘Munchkin’ – a small ornamental bright orange pumpkin. Climbs well if supported.

Favourite squash varieties:
‘Crown Prince’ – a steely blue fruit (see photo above) with a bright orange flesh. Good for soup
‘Kabocha’ – a medium size green pumpkin (see photo above) which has the best chestnut taste. Great for roasting and making soups.

October’s plant of the month

Liriope muscari – Common name lilyturf

A handy evergreen, grass-like perennial with beautiful spikes of purple flowers from September – November. Totally hardy and happy in shade and in any soil. This one is in our north facing garden. Lovely little plant and well worth a place in the garden

Jobs for October 2015

Bizarre and strangely testicular hips of               Red autumn leaves of ornamental cherries

Rosa moyesii ‘ Geranium’

Thanks to a nice bit of high pressure over our part of the country, the start of October looks like being warm, dry and sunny. Let’s hope the weather stays mild and we may be in for an Indian summer. Cool nights and sunny, blue-sky days are great conditions for showing off the autumnal leaf colours at their best. There’s still lots of interest in the garden and still plenty to do. Here are a few jobs to get you thinking;

1. Continue to cut back any dead growth or flower spikes from perennials such as sedums, you might be able to see signs of new growth at the base.

2. Now is a good time to start thinking about giving your lawns some TLC with an autumn lawn treatment. Rake out any thatch of dead brown grass and improve drainage by spiking or aerating. On heavy soils brush sand into the holes to improve drainage and on light sandy soils brush in compost or top soil to improve the moisture retention. If the weather permits you can keep mowing for a few weeks to keep the lawns sharp.

3. Try to keep on top of the leaves if you can, especially if they are on the lawn as they can turn the grass yellow if left to rot. Don’t get too worried about leaves on your flower beds as these will eventually rot down or you can dig them in giving extra nutrients. Diseased leaves should be burnt to stop any infection from carrying over to next year.

4. We try to give roses a light autumn prune, just to put them to bed before Christmas. If you prune down by a third it will stop wind rock which can reduce the rigour of the plant. Rake up and burn old rose leaves, especially if infected with black spot.

5. Tidy up Buddleias now that they have finished flowering. Cut back by a third, just above a pair of leaves. You can cut them back hard in March.

6. Keep lifting and dividing perennials such as Michaelmas Daisies, Alchemila, Campanula and Phlox if required.

7. As deciduous trees are now becoming dormant you can start planting new fruit trees and ornamentals. Peaches and nectarines always do better if planted in the early autumn when the soil is still reasonably warm, apples and pears aren’t so fussy.

8. Now for the ‘f’ word. If frosts have destroyed the last of the summer bedding or you are just fed up with them, pull them up and get rid of them. Think about planting autumn / winter bedding such as Violas and pansies, Bellis, Cyclamen and wall flowers. Pansies and Violas always do better if planted early autumn and I always prefer Violas to pansies as they flower better, look neater and don’t need so much dead heading.

9. Raise your pots up with pot feet to stop them sitting in water over the winter and give some of your more tender plants a bit of protection. If we get some harsh frosts remember that you need to properly fleece your plants; one layer of fleece is not enough you need several layers and cover the pot itself as well.

10. Keep planting spring bulbs, especially daffodils, they always do better when planted Sept / Oct. Tulips can wait until November.

11. Order bare-root plants such as roses, hedging plants and trees for autumn planting. You’ll save money compared to container grown.

12. In the veg garden, harvest your pumpkins and squashes. Once cut you will help storage if you leave them in the sun for a couple of days to let the skins harden before storing somewhere cool, dark and dry.

13. If your tomatoes are still refusing to turn red, try pulling them up and hanging them upside down in the greenhouse or somewhere bright. It should help them to ripen.

Jobs for October 2013

Autumn can be a truly stunning time of year as the leaves start to turn the most amazing colours from fiery reds to vivid yellows.

Far from being the end of the gardening year,  October and November  traditionally mark the start of the planting season, especially with bare-root trees and shrubs, and there’s plenty of jobs to be getting on with in the garden.

 1. Now is a good time to start thinking about giving your lawns some TLC with an autumn lawn treatment. Rake out any thatch of dead brown grass and improve drainage by spiking or aerating. On heavy soils brush sand into the holes to improve drainage and on light sandy soils brush in compost or top soil to improve the moisture retention. If the weather permits you can keep mowing for a few weeks to keep the lawns sharp.

 2.  Try to keep on top of the leaves if you can, especially if they are on the lawn as they can turn the grass yellow if left to rot. Don’t get too worried about leaves on your flower beds as these will eventually rot down or you can dig them in giving extra nutrients. Diseased leaves should be burnt to stop any infection from carrying over to next year.

 3. We try to give roses a light autumn prune, just to put them to bed before Christmas. If you prune down by a third it will stop wind rock which can reduce the rigour of the plant. Rake up and burn old rose leaves, especially if infected with black spot.

4. Tidy up Buddleias now that they have finished flowering. Cut back by a third, just above a pair of leaves. You can cut them back hard in March.

 5. Keep lifting and dividing perennials such as Michaelmas Daisies, Alchemila, Campanula and Phlox if required.

 6. As deciduous trees are now becoming dormant you can start planting new fruit trees and ornamentals. Peaches and nectarines always do better if planted in the early autumn when the soil is still reasonably warm, apples and pears aren’t so fussy.

 7. The summer bedding is starting to look a bit tatty so pull it up and get rid of it. Think about planting autumn / winter bedding such as Violas and pansies, Bellis, Cyclamen and wall flowers. Pansies and Violas always do better if planted early autumn and I always prefer Violas to pansies as they flower better, look neater and don’t need so much dead heading. A lot of the cyclamen sold in garden centres and DIY stores aren’t as hardy as we think and soon turn to mush after a couple of frosts, so don’t expect too much from them if it turns cold.

 8. Raise your pots up with pot feet to stop them sitting in water over the winter and give some of your more tender plants a bit of protection. If we get some harsh frosts remember that you need to properly fleece your plants; one layer of fleece is not enough you need several layers and cover the pot itself as well.

 9. Keep planting spring bulbs. Try some of the species tulips for a bit of interest such as Tulipa praestans ‘Fusillier’ (red), Tulipa clusiana  ‘Sheila’ (Orange / yellow) although the hybrids varieties always perform well. I’m trying ‘China Pink’ for the first time.

 10. In the veg garden, harvest your pumpkins and squashes. Once cut you will help storage if you leave them in the sun for a couple of days to let the skins  harden before storing somewhere cool, dark and dry.

If your tomatoes are still refusing to turn red, pick them and bring them inside. Place them somewhere warm, and try sticking a banana in with them; the natural ethylene gas that they produce should help them to ripen.

Meet the Pumpkin Heads !
Fabulous, Fun and Spooky Planters for Halloween from Woolcott & Smith

Fabulous, Fun and Spooky Planters for Halloween from Woolcott & Smith

Autumn is a fab time for planting and also for those spooky Halloween pumpkins. So  this year, why not combine the two and enjoy your pumpkins as planters a few days before Halloween. Then simply convert them back into the traditional Halloween lanterns on Halloween night. Easy to do, you can get the kids involved, enjoy your plants presented in a fun way and then plant them out in the garden once you have finished.

 

Step 1 -           Choose a large pumpkin

Step 2 -           Draw your design on the pumpkin, the scarier the better

Step 3 -           Cut the top off and scoop out the flesh and seeds

Step 4 -           Carve out the design with care

Step 5 -           Choose a grass or spikey plant such as a phormium and drop it

                        into the top of the pumpkin to make it’s hair

 

 ( If the pot is too big remove the plant from the pot, cut the pot in half, place one half at the back of the carved out face to create a black screen, then remove a little compost from around the root ball of the plant, place the root ball in a freezer or sandwich bag and simply drop into the pumpkin behind the black screen).

 

 Step 6 -           Once you have finished with it simply take the plant out and

                        plant it out in the garden. Don’t forget to recycle the pumpkin on

                        the compost heap, or wash it out and make into soup.

 

Meet The family –  (Back row left to right, then front row left to right)

 

‘Witch Doctor ’ - We have used Carex ‘Comans Bronze’

‘Spike’              - We have used Phormium ‘Rainbow Queen’

‘Scarecrow’       - We have used the red grass Uncinia rubra

‘Banshee’           - We have used Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’

‘Smiler ’             - We have used Acorus gramineus ‘Variegatus’

 

Have Fun !