Gardening in October

Gardening in October
    September has been an excellent month for gardeners, with a great deal of fine, dry weather providing the perfect opportunity to get out and about and do some jobs – in fact, many of us have probably acquired a bit of a suntan!

All parents know that as soon as their children go back to school, the weather will suddenly turn glorious. Not that we've had a bad summer – it's been pretty decent, by British standards.

September has been unusually warm and dry. In fact, it's been the driest for 50 years, with just seven per cent of the September average rainfall of 96mm, while temperatures have been 1.3 degrees C higher than the full month average, according to the Met Office.

With any luck, these conditions will continue for a while longer, although most gardens could probably do with a sprinkling of rain.

There's no rest for the avid gardener in October, of course, so you'll want to make sure you have a plan of action for the coming month.

Some of October's tasks involve maintenance: you should make sure you regularly clear up fallen leaves and cut back any perennials that have died down.

You can also mow your lawn for the last few times and trim your hedges to ensure your garden looks at its best.

If parts of your lawn are looking the worse for wear, or if you're planning on creating any new grassy areas, now it a good time to lay down areas of turf.

Those of us who are keen on growing our own fruit and veg will still have some harvesting to do in October. The warm weather will have led to some bumper crops, so it could take some time to harvest all those juicy apples, pears and grapes, as well as nuts.

Another major task to be getting on with in the coming month is dividing herbaceous perennials and rhubarb crowns.

This should generally be carried out every two to three years to ensure your plants remain healthy and vigorous.  

Use a fork to gently lift the plants, working outwards from the crown’s centre to limit root damage, before shaking off the soil to expose the roots.

Some produce plantlets that can be teased apart and replanted, while others should be pulled apart gently to produce individual clumps.

Large, fibrous-rooted perennials, such as Hemerocallis (daylily), require two garden forks inserted into the crown back-to-back to break the root mass into two sections before you carry out further divisions.

A knife, axe or lawn edging iron may occasionally be needed to divide the clump, especially with regards to plants with woody crowns.

When you've finished dividing, you should plant your divisions and water in well, or pot them up and overwinter them in a frost-free environment.

Also during October, you should move tender plants into the greenhouse and prune climbing roses. And finally, get thinking about what you intend to do in the garden next year and order some seeds in preparation.

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