October is a month of transition – a month for tidying-up, planting and getting tender plants under cover before the onset of winter. Clean up Geraniums, Cannas and tender plants before you bring them indoors, removing faded blooms and dead leaves
Top jobs for October
Prepare for planting of new hedges. Book hedging plants in advance. November onwards is an ideal time to establish a new hedge. Most hedges are planted at 18” apart (45cm.) apart. Get rid of all perennial weeds before planting, paying particular attention to persistent weeds such as scotch grass, nettles, docks, bindweed, thistles and ground elder. It is important these weeds are eradicated before planting commences, as if these are allowed to develop they will have a serious impact on the early establishment of your new hedge. Ensure the soil is adequately drained.
Hedge trimming needs to be completed early this month.
Moving plants indoors
Tender plants can be brought indoors to a frost-free greenhouse or conservatory this month. Keep up to date with frost forecasts and get your frost-sensitive plants under cover before the frost arrives. Once indoors do ventilate the glasshouse well during warm, sunny days, which you can often get during the month of October. Any watering is best done in the morning ensuring the plant isn’t damp going into the night. Do check that heaters are working. Replace any broken glass. Repair torn polythene on Polytunnels – use a special polytunnel repair tape.
Cut back perennials that have finished flowering. Divide perennials – adding a slow release organic fertiliser prior to planting.
Pick apples, pears, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. Store apples and pears that are in sound condition. Don’t store any that are rotten, damaged or blemished. Don’t mix early varieties with late varieties in the store. Keep your fruit in cool, well-ventilated conditions. Keep contaminants such as paints, sprays or fuels away from stored fruit. Store apples and pears separately.
Prune blackcurrants. Cut out about one-quarter to one third of the oldest wood each year. A little selective can be done immediately after picking to remove low-lying and broken branches. This improves air circulation giving better ripening of the wood. Old and new wood can be distinguished by the colour of the wood. Old wood is almost always black, young wood is light brown to golden.
Cut as low down as possible to stimulate vigorous growth of shoots at or near the base. Old or neglected bushes can be rejuvenated by cutting back to within an inch of the ground during winter. This is of course provided they are not infected by gall mite or reversion. This stimulates production of new shoots in the following spring. If these are crowded, thin them out in the subsequent autumn allowing the strongest and best placed to bear fruit in the second year.
Book/plan ahead. Order new fruit trees and bushes for planting immediately after leaf fall. Planting in the autumn is highly recommended, as you have less or no watering and the soil is warm after the accumulation of summer heat, which helps more rapid establishment.
There is also less weed competition, as weed growth will have slowed down, which is no harm after rapid non-stop weed growth over the past few months especially since the damper weather arrived. There is a better chance of securing particular varieties if you order for the autumn. Do choose a sunny, well-drained position out of a frost pocket. Tree fruit such as apples, pears, plums and cherries should be staked with a good strong, stout, sound and secure stake.
New lawns from seed should now be completed at this stage. Create new lawn areas by laying turf grass.
Sow a winter /spring maturing lettuce under cover. You need to grow a short day, winter maturing lettuce for maturing in the shorter days of winter and early spring.
Don’t underestimate the value of autumn colour in the garden. Check out the fiery, dramatic leaf colours of Acers (maples), Liquidamber, Parrotias and Hamamellis. Add dramatic effects of autumn/winter berry colour with Cotoneaster, Pyracantha, Malus(flowering crab).
“Do take the opportunity to visit some of the gardens open to the public to get some inspirational ideas for dramatic autumn colour. Check out the gardens at Blarney Castle, Fota, Garinish Island, Muckross house in Killarney National Park and of course if you are travelling further afield, check out the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Powerscourt, Enniskerry, Co.Wicklow, Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Co.Wicklow.”