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Peter’s Gardening tips for October

October has arrived and along with it has the rain!

Although the temperatures are still fairly mild, the rain has been plentiful which has prolonged the growing season for many of us.

Sweet chestnuts are abundant this year and are falling to the ground. The prickly hedgehog type cases with the chestnuts inside are huge this year. Get them before the squirrels and deer munch them all!

Whilst in the woods take a closer look at mosses, lichens and toadstools – the miniature world of fairies and elves…they’re just magical!

Fairies' homes!

The miniature world of Fairies and Elves

Back to gardening as there are always jobs to be done, whatever time of year.

Jobs to do

  • Make room in the compost bins for all the leaves to come! This is free garden compost – I know it’s a pain but it really does help your plants. Use a rotary mower to hoover up
  • Dig over vegetable beds or rotovate before heavy rain comes.
  • Buy garlic, autumn onion/shallots for planting.
  • Buy Spring flowering bulbs – Daffodils, Crocus, Tulips etc.
  • Plant Winter flowering plants such as Winter flowering Heathers, foliage plants for containers with Pansies, Violas, Primroses and polyanthus and bulbs underneath.
  • Cut hedges.
  • Treat lawns – scarify and aerate. Treat for moss.
  • Bring in tender plants into conservatory or house – lemons, bananas, orchids, non-hardy plants such as geraniums, fuchsias, lantanas, cannas ……
  • Finish pruning trained fruit trees and wisteria.
  • Repairs to shed roof.
  • Pressure wash patio/decking and treat with an algicide.
  • Make a list of the successes and failures in the veg patch and garden!

Sweet Peas:

Definitely, one of the best cottage garden plants with a wonderful scent and makes a fabulous cut flower.

If you would like early flowers next year, now is the time to sow them. I sow the seeds in root trainers. One per cell. These are the best sowing module for peas, beans and sweet peas, because of the depth of the cells – they all produce long taproots. Root Trainers are reusable, washable and give great results. Sweet Peas come in a wonderful range of colours available from Kings, Suttons, Unwins, Fothergills, Thompson and Morgan seed companies to name a few.

Everlasting Sweet Pea

Everlasting Sweet Pea

Lawns:

Scarify and aerate the lawn and put down autumn lawn feed with moss control which will be watered in later in with the help of the rain!

The same goes for grass seed sowing. It will germinate as long as the soil is above 5°c.

There is an innovative and unique new lawn seed that truly is the all-in-one solution to achieving the perfect lawn. Self-repairs in just 7-10 days! Rhizomes and stolons on the roots multiply to create a strong mesh which fuels each blade of grass to regenerate, allowing damaged areas to repair themselves.

Greenhouse:

If you haven’t already tidy and clean out. Wash the glass down for maximum light levels. Insulate with bubble wrap or polycarbonate sheets. Bring in all tender plants and a few herbs to keep you supplied with over the coming weeks.

Planting Time, Digging up, Splitting and Dividing of plants:

Unless your soil is really heavy clay, wet and sodden, now is the best time to plant new trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Large clumps of perennials can be lifted and divided. Clear away any non-productive veg and dig over the ground roughly leaving large lumps for the frost to break down. Raised beds can be mulched and let the worms draw the goodness down.

Compost

Compost

Wildlife:

Hedgehogs will now be looking for winter shelter 

If you have a compost heap, you’re already halfway there for helping hedgehogs, because these hibernating mammals love them. So make sure you do any compost-turning slowly and carefully during the winter months so you don’t disturb your prickly friends, advises Helen Bostock, RHS senior horticultural adviser and co-author of How Can I Help Hedgehogs? Also, don’t block off the crawl spaces under garden sheds and decking, because hedgehogs also hibernate happily under there.

If you accidentally disturb a hibernating hedgehog, cover it back up as quickly as possible, leave a saucer of moist cat food and a shallow saucer of water nearby in case it needs to replenish its supplies, and give its surroundings a wide berth.

It’s not unusual for hedgehogs to wake up and move hibernation sites once or twice during the winter, so don’t worry if it relocates, but try and leave natural shelter such as piles of leaves in the garden.

Or you can buy a hedgehog house – make your garden a welcoming spot for hedgehogs, with this beautiful Igloo Hedgehog House.

With a small tunnel entrance and designed for shelter, it has plenty of space inside to accommodate family groups, but can also be used for hibernation or as a covered feeding station. Just place under a hedge, large shrub or similar concealed place, out of the prevailing wind.

Birds are flocking together- wonderful to see skylark, linnet, meadow pipit, corn bunting all on the stubble fields close to home. It’s been so wet the fields haven’t been ploughed yet so loads of farmland birds enjoying the wildflower seeds and spilt grain. I wish we had more winter stubble fields for the birds to feed on.

First flocks of redwings and fieldfares arriving to feed on another exceptional year of berries on hollies, cotoneasters, hawthorns and crab apples. Still, a few butterflies, bees, wasps and bumblebees feeding on the ivy flowers and anything else in flower.

Soon the grandchildren will be on half term so go collecting some leaves and make a technicolour collage of witches, dragons or chickens – whatever you fancy, let your imagination go and kick a few leaves!

Happy hunting for leaves and make something of them – even compost…

Happy Gardening!

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Peter Mills

I love everything to do with natural history, wildlife, biodiversity and of course horticulture - basically the big outdoors. I grew up with very good teachers namely my parents and my French grandfather who was a superb grower of vegetables. At Hadlow College I studied a three year OND in Horticulture. I had a market stall selling plants. Went onto wholesaling house plants to florists and garden centres across southern England. In 1986 I joined Clandon Park Garden Centre as manager. Whilst there I started my career as a gardening radio presenter with the BBC Southern Counties Radio. This continued for 15 years, building up valuable contacts with the RHS Wisley, live broadcasts from Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower shows, South of England & Surrey County shows etc. Since 1998 I have been self-employed, working as a Head Gardener and in private gardens . Through the RHS Advisory Department at Wisley I advise on horticultural problems in members gardens, including pest & disease problems, lawn-care advice, pruning of wisterias, fruit trees, roses, wildlife gardening, growing fruit & vegetables, creating wildflower meadows, identifying plants and control of pernicious weeds. I am an extremely lucky guy who loves what I do and the trade called Horticulture!

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Hattie
28th Oct 2018
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Thanks for voting!
Have very large very tall clump of Canna lily's even a couple coming into flower. Not sure what to do with them now?

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