October in the garden is all about tidying, preparing and enjoying the last splashes of colour before the first frosts arrive.
Quite often rain and cold weather puts a dampener on October gardening jobs but fortunately this year autumn has not yet arrived here at Le Jardin Perdu. Although there’s now a chill to the mornings, the glorious weather continues, motivating us to get through our list of October gardening jobs before the weather changes.
Here’s our list of jobs to do in the garden this October.
Prune climbing roses.
Cut back to the ground, or to a healthy bud, any dead or diseased branches Also cut back side shoots by about two-thirds, again to a healthy bud. Securely tie stems to frames to prevent them from being damaged by the autumn winds and winter snow.
Create a wildflower patch – Our favourite October gardening job!
Autumn is the perfect time to plan and sow a wildflower garden. If the area you wish to convert is currently full of grass and weeds, remove these as best you can and then cover the area with sheeting. Covering the area will help to prevent the weeds from growing back with a vengeance. Throughout the autumn and winter months, weed and dig the area over on a regular basis. It’s a hard process but by springtime you will have a weed free area ready for sowing. Wildflower seeds can be sown either in early spring or autumn. If your area is already prepared, you can sow wildflower seeds now! As an alternative to wildflower seeds you can sow (or throw!) our nectar rich flower seed bombs. Flower seed bombs are a great Christmas gift idea too!
Harvest squashes and pumpkins.
Before the first frosts arrive, harvest squashes and pumpkins. When harvesting squash, leave about 25mm of stem attached. Once cut from the plant, leave the fruit to either cure outdoors for a week (cover if frost is forecast at night) or indoors in a greenhouse/cold frame. Squash and pumpkins need to be stored in a well-ventilated area, ideally at a temperature of 10-15c. Depending on the variety, squash and pumpkins will store for up to six months.
Plant autumn garlic.
Autumn garlic makes use of space in the vegetable patch at a time when there is little else growing. Autumn garlic needs periods of cold weather to aid its development. To make the most of the cold November and December ground ensure that your garlic is planted before the end of October. You can harvest autumn planted garlic in May. Right now the garden centres in France are full of different varieties of garlic. To read more about French garlic varieties and how garlic should be planted, you can read our earlier blog
Plant spring bedding plants in pots and hanging baskets.
There are lots of flowers and bulbs that can be used to create an early spring pot display. Our favourites include Erysimum, Cyclamen hederifolium, winter flowering pansies, Primula, Skimmia japonica and Sarcococca confusa. Ensure that you use fresh compost when creating your spring pots as the plants will require lots of nutrients to help them survive through the winter months. Take care not to over-water pots during cold weather; no one enjoys having frozen feet! Protect plant roots from particularly cold weather by wrapping them in garden fleece or some other form of insulating material.
Harvest borlotti beans.
We love growing borlotti beans. They are great to use in winter stews, and with their speckled, scarlet pods they add a splash of colour to the vegetable garden. Harvest borlotti beans when the pods have fully dried and have turned a straw colour. Once shelled, scatter the beans on a baking tray and leave them to continue drying for a few days. Once they are completely dry, store the beans in glass jars until you are ready to use them.
Prepare bird feeders
It’s time to clean bird feeders and fill them with a high-energy, nutritious bird seed mix. If you need a new feeder this year, we have a range of eco-friendly feeders available from our website.
Buy garden fleeces.
You never know when those first frosts will arrive, it always pays to be prepared!
Continue to collect seeds and dead-head perennials throughout October. Remember to keep a close eye on the weather forecast; those first frosts won’t be far away! We’d love to know what your October gardening jobs are, please do leave your comments in the box below