October is a wonderful month for being outside. The gorgeous reds and browns of autumn are in full effect and, despite the cold weather, there are a multitude of jobs for the garden in October to keep your fingers green.
The first frosts of the year may well be upon us but there’s still lots of planting, harvesting, clearing and tidying to be done. Here are some of the things to do in the garden in October for UK gardeners.
General Garden Maintenance
A lot of the gardening jobs for October are continuations of the gardening jobs for September. You’ll likely find lots of fallen and soggy leaves, along with moss and algae on the lawn, in your borders and beds as well as on your decking, paths, driveway and patio so ensure it’s all cleared away. You don’t want it clogging up your drains and you certainly don’t want fungal spores forming in damp corners.
If your containers aren’t frost-proof, it’s time to clean them out and put them away in the shed or greenhouse for the winter to stop them cracking.
Talking of sheds, you’re not going to see as much of your tools in the winter as you did in the summer, so one of the non-gardening jobs for the garden in October is to ensure your tools are clean. Oil your shears and secateurs and scrape any mud off your forks, spades and hoes. It’s also worth giving the lawnmower a clean and then you can put everything back neat and tidy in your newly-clean shed!
One of the necessary gardening jobs to do in October is to make sure that birds, bats and bugs are looked after.
Keep your bird baths topped up with water and make sure they have plenty to eat. Food in the wild is scarcer in the cold months than in the warm months, so fill your feeders with seeds and fat balls.
Think about getting – or making – a bat box. They are small wooden boxes fixed to a tree or the side of your house that provides a safe, warm and dry environment for bats to sleep, roost and raise their young.
On a similar topic, bug hotels are another great way to look after your local wildlife. They are also known as insect houses and they provide small, dark and most importantly safe spaces for ladybirds, bees, spiders and assorted insects all the way up to frogs, toads, mice and hedgehogs. Like bat boxes, you can buy them or make them – one of the fun things to do in the garden in October – and they help a garden’s biodiversity and to maintain its natural balance.
Flowers & Plants
One of the October garden tasks that shouldn’t wait is to prune your climbing and rambling roses and tie in the stems to prevent wind damage.
If the last warm days have stretched this far into the year, weeds will still be germinating and it’s an idea to dig them up rather than pull them – as you’ll get them all, including the roots. The same goes for your summer bedding plants which by now will be well past their best.
You can carry on planting your spring pots but, if possible, keep them sheltered so they don’t get frostbitten or damaged by snow.
Fruits & Vegetables
You can plant garlic – ideally under a cloche or in a cold greenhouse – and it should be ready by June. You can also plant overwintering onion sets.
If you planted winter salad veg in trays in late August or early September, they will probably be big enough to plant outside. If possible, grow them under fleeces or mesh.
You can carry on sowing certain varieties of peas and broad beans ready for spring, and it’s important to provide appropriate protection, such as a cloche, to shield the plants from frost and cold weather.
If you’re growing squash or pumpkins, raise them on bricks or planks which keeps them dry and ripens the skins. Hopefully the pumpkins will be ready for carving at Halloween!
If there’s any foliage left from old fruit and veg plants, get rid of it entirely as it can harbour diseases.
If the conditions are right, you could start to plant new fruit trees which should hopefully bear fruit for years to come.