October is an exciting time for some. Leaves turn fiery or golden, conkers lay waiting to be discovered, and Halloween is just around the corner. For others, they see it more like an inevitable and dreaded transition into chilly, winter weather (hands up if you’ve had your heating on yet!)
Whether you’re an autumn fan or mourning summer, October is the perfect time to lay the groundwork and get ahead on any important tasks before the cold weather starts to set in.
We spoke to Alexandra Campbell from The Middle Sized Garden about gardening in preparation for winter.
What’s the best thing about gardening for winter?
The best thing about gardening for winter is that none of it is urgent. Plants aren’t growing, so you can work your way through your winter tasks when the weather is good enough. There used to be a fashion for clearing the whole garden away and leaving it neat and tidy in winter. But now we realise that wildlife really appreciate those piles of leaves and twigs. And once you’ve seen the winter sun or a layer of frost on grasses or dried seedheads you won’t want to cut them down until early spring. However it will all look much better if you neaten the edges of the lawn.
How do you protect tender plants?
There’s less emphasis now on lifting and storing tender plants like dahlias. If you live in a milder part of the UK, then it’s well worth cutting down the foliage and covering the plant thickly with mulch to protect it from frost. Use well rotted horse manure, household compost or a commercial compost. Not every plant will survive every winter – but it’s less effort than digging up and storing. Dahlias that do like this treatment do very well – Dahlia Black Cat has threatened to take over my whole garden.
What other jobs are important?
It’s a good time to prune most trees and shrubs (except plum trees). It’s well worth taking expert advice on pruning or reading reputable books. If you just hack away at branches, the tree will end up in a distorted shape.
What can you grow in winter?
An increasing number of people are now planting seeds of half-hardy annuals like sweetpeas, euphorbia and ammi, in September or October. Sweetpeas grown from seed planted in autumn flower earlier than those planted in spring. Broad beans, too, are best planted at the end of summer for harvest the following spring. And there are other seeds too, which benefit from being planted earlier in the year, such as cleome. While you could use a windowsill, it’s unlikely to be light enough, and it may be too warm. Either a potting shed or a greenhouse is essential if you want to grow plants from seed.
Thanks for those great tips, Alexandra!
Autumn Garden Checklist
We’ve made a handy checklist of the gardening jobs you can do this autumn to get ahead for winter.
Last but not least – don’t forget that well-earned cuppa!
Are you winter ready? Let us know in the comments!