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WAHGA Jobs for October


Yet again we’re having another period of unusual weather. Tomatoes (if they haven’t got blight!) are still ripening, green beans and courgettes can still be cropped, and the flower borders are full of vibrant blooms. It’s the perfect time to make the most of the good weather, before the clocks change, to get the garden and allotment in good order.


CLEARING AND MULCHING

Weeds have been a huge problem in 2023. The warm, wet weather has been perfect for weeds to germinate and grow strongly. But with the shorter days try to clear weeds now and mulch as you do so to stop any new weeds germinating. Try sowing a green manure on bare areas of soil as this will stop weeds, prevent the soil developing a hard crust (‘capping off’) in winter, and will add much needed organic matter into the soil in the spring.


Once your beans have stopped producing new crops towards the middle of the month, take down bean supports, trellises etc and put away in a shed or somewhere else under cover. Bean and pea roots can be left in to break down in the ground as they are fairly rich in nitrogen, just mulch over them.


The growth of salad crops will quickly decline as the temperature cools and daylight hours reduct; pull up and compost any that you can’t eat. With some tough plants, like sweetcorn, chop them up to speed up the composting process.


HARVESTING

  • Ripen the final tomatoes indoors, or make green tomato chutney.

  • Pick beetroot and carrots before the first frosts.

  • Courgettes and cucumbers can be pulled up as soon as they stop producing fruit.

  • Potatoes are ready for digging up and storing, they can be left until the first frosts.

  • Apples, pears, damsons and quince are ready now.

LEAVE TO GROW

  • Celeriac & Parsnips – harvest as you need them, but they will taste sweeter after the first frosts.

  • Swede & Turnips – you can leave these in the ground until you want to use them

  • Leeks – these will stand in the ground over autumn and winter, so harvest them as and when you want to use them.

  • Cabbages – these will stand well in the ground, so you can harvest them when they reach a good size.

  • Cauliflowers – best to harvest as soon as the heads reach full maturity, and before any hard frosts.

  • Winter Squash & Pumpkins – harvest once the skins are tough (you shouldn’t be able to pierce the skin with a thumbnail) – this is usually towards late October,

  • Rocket – this will overwinter in this area

  • Sprouts – depending on the cultivar, they will be ready to harvest as you need them, some late varieties cultivars are not ready until December. Protect from from slugs and pigeons!

  • Sprouting Broccoli – this might pause from producing florets until early spring

  • Spinach, Chard, Kale – as long as these look healthy, continue cropping and leave them to grow on

FRUIT JOBS Autumn is the perfect time for planting perennial fruit. The plants spend the time when they're dormant upstairs, producing roots downstairs, so they are raring to go by spring. You can buy trees and plants ‘bare root’ which is the cheaper and more environmental option. Have a look at Blackmoor Nurseries, a tried and tested supplier. There is a £5 discount per order for WAHGA members. Order now for November planting.

- Raspberry canes can be ordered now for planting in November.

- Blueberries can be planted now, they do well in large pots filled with ericaceous compost as they are acid loving plants.

- Gooseberries, currants and other soft fruit, which are not readily available in the supermarket, are also worth trying out.

- On an allotment, and small/medium gardens, fruit trees should be on dwarf root stock to keep a short sturdy tree. This results in heavy cropping and easy harvesting. It also enables you to have two or three varieties even on a small plot. Perhaps try something unusual like apricot or greengage. Step-over trees are another option; perfect for edging a border.

- Fruit trees: apply grease bands to the trunks of trees to prevent winter moth from climbing up. Though be careful to choose reputable products as if too sticky they can catch other wildlife.

- Cut back the fruited canes only of summer raspberries, blackberries, tayberries. Tie in the new growth of blackberries and tayberries to create a structure for next season.

- Pot on strawberry runners, and tidy up your strawberry bed to prevent overcrowding.


VEGETABLE JOBS

Plant spring cabbage close together and harvest every other plant as greens, before the heart of the cabbage forms.


Onion sets and garlic can be planted now; they both have a long growing season and will be ready next summer


Salad leaves, such as Lamb's lettuce, can be sow and left to grow under cover.

Broad beans can be sown towards the end of the month - Aquadulce Claudia is one of the best choice for autumn sowing, and also Franchi seeds Aguadulce Supersimona - don’t forget to use your WAHGA discount if buying from Valentina Deli in Weybridge High Street!


IN THE GARDEN

This summer has been good for lawns, and grass is still growing vigorously. It’s the time of year to give your lawn an autumn feed and reseed any bare patches. I’ve stopped using turf as most turf is grown on a plastic mesh which is bad for wildlife. Also, as the grass is still growing, don’t put off mowing as you never know when they’ll be another dry day.


Much as on the allotment, it’s time to weed, cut back and mulch your beds and borders in the garden. Mulching now will help suppress weeds and adding organic matter will help hold moisture in the soil, and improve the soil structure.


It’s the perfect time to divide herbaceous perennials. Depending on the plant dig up, split and replant.


Take cuttings from plants such as Salvia and Penstemon. Its also a good time to take cuttings from pelargoniums, roses, lavender and rosemary to name a few!


Autumn is the ideal time to plant new shrubs and herbaceous perennials. They spend the dormant period over winter developing a strong root system. But please remember if there is a dry and windy period in winter they may need watering.


And yes, it’s bulb planting season! Delay planting tulips until the weather cools a bit more, but other bulbs can go in now. To deter squirrels and mice from digging bulbs up in pots, top the pot with winter annuals such as viola or primula.


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