Make the most of autumn’s mellow fruitfulness
October’s a fabulous month, filled with autumnal colour, sometimes a warm spell and often the first frost.
Whatever the weather, there are still enough hours of light for a good day’s work and there’s plenty to be getting on with, particularly in the vegetable garden.
Must-do tasks for the month are sweeping up any fallen leaves and using them to make leaf mould. Also lift dahlia tubers, begonia tubers and gladioli corms to store dry over the winter months. But be sure to remove any dead foliage before storing them.
In the veg patch, harvest your pumpkins in time for Halloween. Finish harvesting beans and peas then cut the plant away at ground level, leaving the roots in the soil. These crops fix nitrogen, which is slowly released into the soil as the roots break down – great for what you plant there next year. Protect autumn cauliflower heads from frost by wrapping the outer leaves around them and securing with string; alternatively use a cloche or fleece. Also remove the netting from fruit cages to allow birds to catch and eat any pests lurking there.
Tip of the month
It’s a good idea to lift and divide up your overcrowded herbaceous perennials now, while the soil is still quite warm, as this will allow the roots to grow before the winter sets in
Q: When’s the best time to take hardwood cuttings, and what’s the best way to do it?
A: Hardwood cuttings of woody plants are taken from strong, healthy shoots of this year’s growth, from mid autumn to late winter when the stock plant is dormant. Divide the shoot into sections 20cm long. Cut diagonally and cleanly above a bud for the top. This will help shed water but equally will act as a reminder of which way around the cutting is.
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