Calendar of Garden Work for October

THIS is the month for autumn colour, when the last of the flowers are picked from the border and only a few chrysanthemums and dahlias remain where the frost does not strike. Start to tidy up all unwanted growth and put it on the compost heap or bonfire.

This is a good time to use slow-acting fertilizers such as basic slag and bone meal. Whatever fertilizers are used, scatter them on the surface, leaving them to be washed in by the rain or turned in later by digging.


This is the time for collecting much plant material for winter decoration, before it rots or softens, especially fruits and seed pods for Christmas. Preserve beech branches with leaves by pruning them off the tree before the leaves start to fall. Stand them in a mixture of half a pint of glycerine and half a pint of water and leave them in it until they have taken up all the liquid. Later lay them flat between sheets of newspaper and either leave them under the carpet for a week or so, or press them with a very cool iron for a minute or two.

Herbaceous plants can be lifted and divided and the borders replanned and replanted. If they are being replanned, take the opportunity of digging them over deeply and incorporating good rotted compost or well-rotted manure. Get it well down.

Dig sweet pea trenches, incorporating well-rotted manure or compost.

Prepare the ground for new plantings of trees and shrubs which will be received at any time from now on from the nurseryman.

Plant tulip bulbs in late October, either in the general spring bedding scheme, or in bold groups of individual varieties in the border. It is better to keep tulips of one type in a group together, otherwise the effect is very ragged.

Plant lily-of-the-valley crowns. Put them in 3 to 6 in. apart and just cover the crown. They like to grow in a semi-shaded position.

If there has been a frost the dahlias should be lifted and the tubers dried and stored as described in Dahlias. Remember to label each plant as it is lifted before any confusion can arise.

Sow seed of sweet peas in pots in the first half of the month and keep in a cold frame. The seedlings should be ready for planting out in the following March.

Till in hollows in lawns and carry out deep spiking, using a suitable fork or aerating machine. Renew worn patches with new turf.

Plant out biennials raised from sowings made in the early summer.

Plant English and Dutch irises.

Trim lavender and prune chaenomeles (cydonia) and wistaria.

At regular intervals inspect bulbs plunged outdoors and bring them into a warm room as soon as they start to make growth.


Finish lifting potatoes, carrots, and beet-root, as they do not stand frost. Store those that are to be kept. Other root and stem crops, such as parsnips, turnips, celery and leeks, benefit from some frost, and need more time in the ground.

Clear vacant land and start digging it over. Add old manure or rotted compost at the rate of a bucketful to the sq. yd. On heavy ground, leave the surface of the soil as rough as possible to expose it to the action of frost during the winter.

Protect the forming heads of cauliflowers by bending the outer leaves over them.

Sow thickly the seeds of winter-growing peas in a sheltered spot, such as a sunny border at the foot of a fence, and protect with straw or bracken.

Complete the earthing up of celery.

Take rhubarb crowns into the green-house or shed for forcing.


Take cuttings of red and black currants and gooseberries and insert them in a shallow trench out-of-doors to over-winter. From the current year’s growth, make the cuttings from 8 to 10 in. long. Take off the buds from the lower two-thirds of gooseberry cuttings to prevent the resulting young plants from producing suckers. These hardwood cuttings root slowly through the winter and never get away quickly the following spring, so leave them until October next year before planting them out into their permanent beds.

Black currant bushes three years old or more should be pruned back by a third immediately after the leaves have fallen.

Prune blackberries as soon as the crop has been taken off.


Cyclamens and primulas for Christmas flowering should be growing well and will need feeding with liquid feed about every other week, although soft growth must be guarded against.

Chrysanthemums will be coming into bloom and may need feeding and tying. Give adequate ventilation to keep the atmosphere buoyant. Make watering a daily routine.

Put cuttings of pansies, penstemons and marguerites round the edges of pots filled with silver sand, and keep them in a cool or cold house or even a frame to root. They can be hardened off and planted out next spring.

Box up mint roots for forcing; lift a few roots, put them in a shallow wooden box and cover with fine soil. Keep the soil just moist and at a night temperature of not more than 50° F. (10° C); fresh young shoots will soon appear and will provide mint for the kitchen throughout the winter months.

Plant rose trees in 10-in. pots to flower in the greenhouse (see The Use of Glass in the Garden). For the time being, however, the plants must be kept out-of-doors in a sheltered corner until December.

Tuberous-rooted begonias and gloxinias should be finally dried off and kept in a cool, dry place until required the following spring.

To conserve heat in the greenhouse, line it with polythene film.

06. September 2013 by admin
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