October gardening tips

Yes, it’s October… already! And that means starting to think about the dreaded ‘W-word’, says green-fingered expert Adam Kirtland

Gosh, where did summer go? And did summer even get started properly? Joking aside, we’ve had such an odd mixture of weather over the last season but ultimately it is time to start thinking about the dreaded W-word – Winter, and how our gardens and greenspaces change over the seasons of autumn and winter. Focusing on autumn here, I’ve compiled my top tips for planning ahead NOW for a fantastic show-stopping garden in the new year and some things you might have not thought about doing… so let’s get to it!

Save your summer blooms!

Now that we’re out of the summer season (sorry to say it!), you’ll want to cast your eye over the garden and think about what you’ve got and if you’ve grown anything like Dahlias that need lifting. Dahlias, as you may know, are gorgeous plants with an abundance of flowers right through summer (you might even have some still flowering) but they aren’t the best for surviving a long cold winter, which is something we had last winter! You’ve got two options when it comes to protecting them and ensuring you’ve got them for next year and I’ll guide you through those here.
The first option is to leave them in the ground and hope for the best! This is my least favourite option as there is a high likelihood that you’ll lose them to the harsh cold, even if you give them a thick layer of mulch (compost is good for this) then this is still a possibility. I prefer to cut them back, dig up the tubers and hose all the soil from about them and tuck them away in a crate of sawdust or dry compost and put them somewhere frost free and away from sunlight. Then you can bring them back out in spring and plant them up again.

If you know me, you’ll know I love bulbs!

Although I’ve got a huge love for Dahlias, my real passion in the garden is the spring time – mainly because of spring bulbs! Thankfully, October is a wonderful time to buy your bulbs and plan and almighty display come spring.
I love the choice you have with bulbs, namely daffodils and tulips and if you’re careful, it needn’t be an expensive project either. Another good reason to go with bulbs is that they all generally work exceptionally well in pots and containers, which means that you can grow them in any type of space, big or small.
If this is your first time growing bulbs then you’re in for a real treat because they’re very easy to plant and you largely just get to sit back and wait for them to grow. You’ll be able to find tons on offer in almost every garden centre and a particular favourite of mine is Hillier Garden Centre Hampton-in-Arden! Grab a few pots, a bag or two of compost and a few bags of bulbs and that’s enough to create a small cluster of pots on your patio for spring. Make sure you follow my Instagram (@viewfromthepottingbench) for lots of spring-time inspiration!

Fancy keeping the vampires away?

Unknowingly, I’ve gone down a bulb route in this month’s column but it’s only because they’re all so simple! However, in this section I’ve got something edible for you that I bet the majority of you haven’t grown, despite the fact that we all use it regularly and perhaps don’t realise just how easy it is to grow – garlic!
Much like the bulbs of spring, it can be as easy as popping them in a pot with some compost and biding your time until they’re ready to harvest next year. But nothing really does beat the taste of homegrown, and garlic is no different. Again, you’ll likely find these in the garden centre too and now is about the perfect time to get planting. As a rule of thumb, individual cloves should be planted around 5cm below the surface of the compost and in a decent sunny position. If you plant now, then depending on your variety – you’ll have a harvest between July and August next year.

You can follow Adam on Instagram @viewfromthepottingbench or listen to his Tales From The Potting Bench podcast for more gardening inspiration. You can also read Adam’s blog at viewfromthepottingbench.com