What to do in October: Preparation, protection and propagation

Aldetha
Published on October 3rd 2018
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September brought us the first storm of late summer quickly followed by Storm Bronagh, but brave gardeners still plan ahead for brighter and drier times.

Here are a few jobs that you might need to think about this month...

Firstly there is still time to plant spring bulbs. The garden centres are full of tempting displays, try not to get to carried away, it is easy to fill your shopping basket with the little beauties, only to forget that you do have to plant them. There are great tools like bulb planters but they really only work on soil that is has been improved. A bulb planter is hard work if used for planting into heavy clay. Planting bulbs provides an excellent opportunity to improve the soil by adding loose sand or grit to aid drainage.
Some think that this time of year is when you start to wind down. But in reality, it's still busy.

Undercover for the flower garden

There are jobs in the greenhouse, polytunnel and coldframes that can be done now which will enhance your garden next year.
There are several flowers that you can start growing now such as hollyhocks, sweetpeas, hellebores, oriental poppies and even aquilegia.
Hollyhocks Alcea will germinate in a greenhouse quite easily now, so that you should be able to pot them on later this Autumn and overwinter in a coldframe.
Sweetpeas Lathyrus odoratus by sowing them now you should get flowers earlier in the summer. Once they have germinated and have their second leaves you can pinch them off to encourage the plants to produce side shoots.
Gardening tip. If you are sowing your sweetpeas now watch out for mice nicking them from the pots before they germinate.
Hellebores Helleborus sow these is a good quality seed compost in shallow pots, pop them into your cold frame. Keep damp but do not overwater. Hellebore germination is sporadic.
Both Oriental poppies and Aquilegia seeds can also be sown and put in the cold frame to give you a head start in spring.
Sowing seeds now in your coldframe, greenhouse or directly into the ground can free up space when space can be at a premium.
There are several hardy annuals that can be sown directly into the ground or in coldframes as they may require winter protection. If hard frosts are forecast, protect them by using cloches or horticultural fleece.
Others that you can grow in your greenhouse are:

Undercover for the Vegetable garden

Germinate herbs in your greenhouse such as basil, chives and parsley. Sow a small amount each week till the end of October and then repot into decorative pots for your kitchen windowsill so that you can have herbs all winter long.
Grow living salads, onions, lambs lettuce, land cress, mustard and winter salad leaves either in your greenhouse or under cloches outdoors.
The beginning of October is the last chance to plant your potatoes to ensure that you are eating them on Christmas day. See our article '19 weeks till Christmas'

Direct sowing outdoors

It is time to sow winter lettuce or lambs lettuce, there are varieties that are hardy and can be sown directly in a sheltered position or in an unheated greenhouse.
Direct sow peas and broad beans for early cropping.
As that is quite a list of jobs, but remember if you have any questions or not sure, just post a picture in the app and one of the community or team will happily help you out!
Happy Autumnal Gardening!
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