Summer is gone. In just a few weeks, the clocks will go back as we head towards the end of the year. Don’t despair though. The long, cold nights and short hours of daylight do not mean you have to put away your gardening gloves and can’t enjoy your garden. The following tips will help you get the best from your garden through the autumn and into winter.
Start Composting Now
Early autumn is a great time to collect organic material. Trees are shedding their leaves, some plants will die off and any fruit or veg that didn’t quite make it should be composted. If you don’t have a compost bin, you could section off an area of the garden for composting. Collect organic material meticulously. Your soil is likely exhausted of nutrients. Save money on buying new soil by using this broken down material.
The UK has become used to mild Octobers in recent years. Thanks to climate change, the frost doesn’t come quite so early any more. That means you need to keep an eye on your weeds for a little longer. Removing them now will create less stress throughout the winter. Free of weeds, the over-wintering plants will get the most out of the soil at what is a delicate time. As these plants die off, be sure to remove them. Keep your vegetable patches and flowerbeds as weed-free as possible.
Burn Diseased Material
While composting, keep an eye for leaves and fruit/vegetables with signs of disease. This cannot be recycled. The viruses or bacteria could potentially infect your other plants and lay dormant in your compost heap. The diseases will come back next year if not destroyed now. There is only one thing that you can do with diseased organic material, and that is to burn it. If you’re having a bonfire in November, put it aside for kindling.
Turn Over Your Soil
A combination of frost and rain is likely to compact the soil. It has probably become compacted over the last few months. Your job in the spring will be much easier if you turn it over and loosen it up now. It will also make your job easier for those autumn planters – some of which we list below. Turning over will keep it aired and help it drain when it gets wet.
What To Plant in October
Daffodils: “Daffies” are one of the earliest flowers to appear in our spring garden, typically making their appearance in February-March. That may seem a long time away, but for a good early crop, October is ideal. The weather is mild enough that they can make a start on growing. You’ll be pleased you did. You may also plant tulips for another early crop. In fact, any flowering bulb should be fine to plant in October.
Mushrooms: October is a great time to plant edible fungi. Beware though, as some species are incredibly temperamental. You need the right conditions, typically a combination of mild temperatures, humidity and shade. They will grow on almost anything given the right conditions. An old paperback book laced with spores and the right organic material will see growth within a month. You should be able to harvest as early as November.
Garlic: RHS advises against supermarket garlic as they could carry disease and may not be suited to the climate. However, garden centres or mail order sites that states the produce is suitable for growing should be ok. Simply, you can get a new crop from existing cloves. All you need to is plant individual cloves with the sharp end pointing upwards. You should have a healthy crop of garlic in the spring.
Broad Bean: The best type of vegetable to plant now, and one you will be able to harvest from early spring. These fast-growing and hardy plants will easily survive the winter and supplement your weekly shop with a healthy and tasty crop for your roast dinners come March.