Rain, rain… GO AWAY!
With all the rain that we have had recently after a fairly dry summer, there is a good chance that your plants could be waterlogged. Plants in waterlogged soil suffer because water fills the air spaces and roots cannot breathe. Leaves will yellow and wilt. Roots will be black and mushy, and the soil may smell of rotten eggs. If your containers are sodden, replant them using fresh free-draining compost mixed with one-third grit. Add a thick layer of course gravel or broken crocks in the bottom making sure that drainage holes aren’t blocked. Elevate your pots with pot feet to allow drainage and to lift the roots from the freezing ground. Top dress with gravel, mulch or decorative stones to avoid dehydration. If your veggie patch is a swimming pool, consider making raised beds.
It’s time to make a change
October is the perfect time to make any changes that you would like to make for your garden for next year. In preparation, dig over the ground, add some good quality manure and remove any weeds, making the soil ready for any new plants that you will be putting in ready for next spring. If you are undertaking more large scale structural changes, this is the ideal month – before it gets cold and days get really short.
It is a very good time to start a compost heap, as the garden produces more rubbish from just about everywhere, so you will have plenty of material to use. Find a corner in your garden where you can start your heap or buy a compost bin. Most people get confused as to what you can put into compost; garden waste is ideal, grass cuttings (although these need to be broken up with layers of other compost materials) hedge trimmings, leaves and spent flowers, weeds (avoid persistent weeds and weeds in seed) twigs, scrunched up paper/cardboard, tea bags, coffee grounds and uncooked fruit and vegetable peelings – even egg shells!
I suggest a ready-to-use compost accelerator like ‘Westland Make Your Own Compost’ to help get your compost going. The end result is quality, home compost that can be used around the garden, either as a soil improver or as garden mulch.
Prune climbing roses and your conifer hedges, and now is a good time to plant container-grown trees, shrubs and climbers.
Finish planting spring-flowering bulbs and plant new herbaceous perennials to put a bit morecolour into your beds in the autumn months.
Feed the birds
Traditionally gardeners start feeding the birds in October and continue throughout the winter until about March. However the RSPB now recommend that we feed the birds all year round, owing to the shortage of suitable facilities in wild habitats. Put out clean water every few days.
Have a clear-out of your pond and cut down the dead and dying leaves of marginal plants; remove floating water plants, scoop out excess sludge from the bottom of the pond, and cover the pond area with netting.