As the summer draws to a close there are plenty of jobs to do in the garden to prepare for autumn. Try these simple tips...
Start your compost going by buying a bin or building a partially enclosed area for a heap. Fallen leaves prevent light and air getting to plants, so now is a good time to get the rake out. Keep on weeding and have a gentle tidy up in your borders, but resist the temptation to do a full spring clean just yet. So, what other gardening jobs should we be doing in October?
Make your own compost
Gather the ingredients, mix them, put them in a container and cook until they’re warm and blended together. A fully laden compost heap cooks itself. Try to get a balanced mix of wet ingredients (leaves, clippings and vegetable peelings), and dry elements like wood ash and scrunched newspaper. Pile onto a plastic sheet and mix with a garden fork, then pack into a compost bin. After 9-12 months youll have rich, crumbly compost to feed your plants and improve the soil.
Organise seed packets
Use an old wooden box – a wine box is good – and divide it into sections. Categorise by seed type (salads, annual flowers, perennials, beans and so on) or alphabetically – whichever is most practical. File away any unused and half-used packets.
Plant spring-flowering bulbs
Popular spring bulb varieties such as daffodils and tulips need sunny, dry spots in order to grow, so preferably choose to plant in areas with a good amount of sun. They are one of the easiest and most rewarding garden plants to grow. When planting in beds, mix compost into the soil to provide rich nutrients for the bulbs to start flourishing.
Harvest and prune fruit trees
Pick off any rotting fruit that will spread disease if left on the tree. When a fruit tree is properly pruned in a timely manner, yields are more consistent and the fruit is of better quality.
Pick flowers for pressing
Arrange on blotting paper then put another sheet on top. Place in a flower press or inside a heavy book with a weight on top. After a week, lift the knife and store in tissue paper for making cards and gifts.
Plant an ornamental tree
Find out how tall the tree will be when fully mature. A large tree such as an oak, beech or chestnut in a garden thats too small for it will dominate the space and upset neighbours. Small trees are easy to clip to restrict them to an allotted space, and some can be grown in containers. Conifers and evergreens give solid shade, while deciduous varieties give dappled shade.
Create an evergreen armchair
Grow a low hedge around the back and sides of a permanent garden bench to give shelter and to create a focal point. Choose a small-leaved, evergreen plant, such as myrtle, rosemary, euonymous, ivy or pittosporum.