Guest Blog from Alasdair Urquhart from Haskins Garden Centres
With winter beckoning, october is a busy time of harvesting fruit, storing vegtables, planting trees and tiding up.
This is the month to get new plants in the ground for the coming spring, especially bulbs. Whether they are naturalised in lawns and borders or planted into pots, bulbs provide the perfect antidote to winter. Their fresh colour signals the return of life and they provide essential forage for emerging bees.
With milder temperatures lingering on, trees planted now are able to put on root growth over the winter, getting a head start for the following year. You can boost a tree’s performance by mulching with newspaper, cardboard, straw or well-rotted bark. This practice creates the ideal conditions to improve soil life, which in turn will benefit your trees.
In the fruit garden, October heralds the harvesting of apples and pears. It’s easy to tell when they are fully ripe as they will easily detach in the hand. If picking early, let them stand for a week or so to improve flavour. Whilst home-grown fruit might not look as good as supermarket produce, it really does offer a taste that can’t be matched. If you are looking to store fruit over the winter, select only the best quality fruit to prevent rots. The remainder should be consumed first or used as an animal feed. Even blemished fruits can still be eaten or juiced if you remove the bad bits first.
Whilst you are out in the garden munching the last of the autumn raspberries, prune out the recently fruited canes of other berries, such as blackberries, loganberries, boysenberries and tayberries. This will encourage younger stems that will fruit next year.
It’s still possible to grow vegetables over winter. Brassica crops, such as spring cabbages, onion sets and garlic can be planted for harvest early next year. If you’ve been growing brussel sprouts for Christmas, you will need to stake them if they become top heavy.
October is also the month that our neighbouring wildlife can benefit from a little help. Your local birds will love you if you top up feeders and provide fresh water on a regular basis. A simple pot-saucer raised off the ground and filled with water will really benefit the smaller hedge birds, who will prefer it over a larger bird bath.
You can also help by creating shelters for hibernating mammals, reptiles and amphibians, all of whom are beneficial to your garden. When tiding up, leave a corner or two a little messy with piles of logs, leaves or large stones – these areas can make a massive difference to their survival.
Here at Weird Fish we want to thank Alasdair and Haskins from providing this advice for us. We will be taking the advice and applying to our own carpark garden. You can here more from Haskins every month on the Weird Fish blog.