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Garden Ideas for October


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Looking for ideas for what to do in the garden in October? Well, look no further as we have compiled a list of garden jobs to keep you busy throughout the month.

How to keep Containers Well-Drained


If your containers get too wet during the winter months the roots of your plant may suffocate and rot. Fortunately there are a number of things you can do to prevent this form happening.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Pot-feet, Stone

Step One:

The most obvious sign that there is a problem with drainage is water collecting at the surface of the compost.

Step 1 of 4How to keep Containers Well-Drained

Step Two:

The first thing to do is to lay the pot on its side to drain as much of the excess water as possible.

Step 2 of 4How to keep Containers Well-Drained

Step Three:

To prevent it happening again you can use 'pot feet' to raise your container to improve airflow and drainage.

Step 3 of 4How to keep Containers Well-Drained

Step Four:

Elevate the container at an angle by placing a stone (or similar) under one side of the base to aid drainage.

Step 4 of 4How to keep Containers Well-Drained

How to care for your Greenhouse


Winter is the hardest time for plants in your greenhouse. You should clean insulate your greenhouse to give your plants as much heat and light as possible.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Brush, Detergent, Bubble-wrap, Plastic Clips

Step One:

Clean the panels of the greenhouse with a brush or sponge, warm water and detergent.

Step 1 of 4How to care for your Greenhouse

Step Two:

Clean algae from the joins between the panels. Be careful not to damage the edges of the panels.

Step 2 of 4How to care for your Greenhouse

Step Three:

Place bubble-wrap inside the panels to add a layer of insulation and to keep out draughts.

Step 3 of 4How to care for your Greenhouse

Step Four:

Hold the bubble-wrap in place using plastic clips. Make sure to leave the ventilator free so that you can lower the temperature in the greenhouse if you need to.

Step 4 of 4How to care for your Greenhouse

How to protect bulbs in the garden


It can be very annoying when you plant bulbs in the garden ready for spring colour and then they never appear. You may not even see the culprit, but both mice and squirrels love the food value of healthy bulbs and will eat through the lot if they can.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Aquatic pot, spade or trowel, soap, grater

Step One:

An aquatic basket pot is a simple way to help protect your bulbs. Part-fill it with garden soil.

Step 1 of 4How to protect bulbs in the garden

Step Two:

Place the bulbs inside. The more bulbs you wish to protect, the larger the pot will have to be.

Step 2 of 4How to protect bulbs in the garden

Step Three:

Fill the pot to the rim with soil and then sink it into the ground where you have dug the hole for soil. For extra protection, lay a piece of 2-3cm chicken wire across the pot and turn the edges down over the rim.

Step 3 of 4How to protect bulbs in the garden

Step Four:

Cover the pot with soil. As an extra deterrent, you can grate scented soap over the top, but this needs replacing every week as the scent wears off. Plastic pots do not biodegrade, so this will need lifting in 2-3 years to divide the clump of bulbs.

Step 4 of 4How to protect bulbs in the garden

How to clean your pots


No matter how fastidious you are with your plants, there will be a residue of pests and/or diseases in your pots at the end of the season. Many of these come equipped with protective mechanisms that allow them to survive the winter and rise to infect your plants next year. Cleaning everything ready to make a fresh start in spring is time-consuming, but worth the effort.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Large container, Disinfectant/Sterilant, Waterproof gloves

Step One:

Use a stiff-bristled brush to get rid of all the loose compost and debris.

Step 1 of 4How to clean your pots

Step Two:

Add a measure of disinfectant or sterilant to a large container of clean water.

Step 2 of 4How to clean your pots

Step Three:

Submerge the pot in the water and leave to soak for several hours.

Step 3 of 4How to clean your pots

Step Four:

Smaller pots can be done as a batch. When you take the pots out of the water, turn them upside down and leave to drain and dry. Then you can pack them away under cover until you need them.

Step 4 of 4How to clean your pots

How to store apples


Apples picked fresh from the garden taste delicious and are packed with goodness, but if the crop is too big for you to use as it ripens, you may need to look at storing some of it to use later. Some apples stores better than others and you should check the storage life of your particular variety for guidance.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Box, Paper

Step One:

The better condition the apple is in, the better it will store so take care to remove rings that might bruise the fruit as you pick it and handle it carefully. Twist or lift gently to release the apple, as pulling can break the branch off, too. If it won’t come easily, it may not be ripe.

Step 1 of 4How to store apples

Step Two:

Transport the fruit carefully. Any bruising that occurs now can begin to rot in storage and may affect the whole batch.

Step 2 of 4How to store apples

Step Three:

Wrap each apple in paper to isolate them from each other and prevent damage if they knock together. Pack them into a wooden box so there is air-flow around the fruit.

Step 3 of 4How to store apples

Step Four:

Do not put damaged fruit into storage, use it straight away. Place the box of apples in a cool, dark spot, such as a shed or garage. Check regularly for rotting and remove the affected apples to prevent it spreading.

Step 4 of 4How to store apples

How to lift Dahlias


Dahlias are wonderful value, producing flowers throughout the summer and giving height to the border. There are many sizes, flower forms and a huge range of colours to choose from. In milder areas, they can be left in the border all year, but in colder areas, or as a precaution to make sure you keep a variety you particularly like, they can be lifted and stored.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Fork, Secateurs, Box, Compost

Step One:

In autumn, as the foliage begins to turn yellow and die down, lift the plant carefully, making sure you do not damage the root tubers.

Step 1 of 4How to lift Dahlias

Step Two:

Cut the top growth down to about 15cm using clean, sharp secateurs.

Step 2 of 4How to lift Dahlias

Step Three:

Turn the plant upside down and allow any remaining sap to drain from the cut stems. Leaving it in can result in rotting during storage.

Step 3 of 4How to lift Dahlias

Step Four:

Lay the dry tuber in a box and pack compost around it. You can pack several tubers together, but make sure you label them so you know which is which. Store the box in a dark, frost-free place over the winter ready to plant out again next April/May.

Step 4 of 4How to lift Dahlias

How to plant through weed-suppressing membrane


If you want to make your garden less work, then one place to start is by using weed-suppressing membrane over the borders. This fabric is porous, so water can pass down through it to plant roots, but is dense enough to stop weeds growing up.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Weed-suppressing membrane, knife, trowel, mulch

Step One:

Ideally, this is best laid over a bare border before you start planting. Overlap the edges if you use more than one strip.

Step 1 of 4How to plant through weed-suppressing membrane

Step Two:

Cut an X with a sharp knife where you want to plant and peel back the flaps to dig the planting hole.

Step 2 of 4How to plant through weed-suppressing membrane

Step Three:

Position the plant and fill in the hole, firming the plant into place. Fold the flaps of fabric back over the soil around the plant.

Step 3 of 4How to plant through weed-suppressing membrane

Step Four:

Disguise the fabric (and help it last longer) with a deep layer of mulch, like bark or gravel. This also helps reduce moisture loss in summer. Leave a small saucer-shaped depression immediately around the plant stem so it cannot be damaged.

Step 4 of 4How to plant through weed-suppressing membrane

How to turf a lawn


Laying turf to create a lawn gives an instant effect and laying it properly means it will be easier to look after for years to come. Seek out good quality turf, preferably from a specialist and choose a time when the weather is mild and the soil warm.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Spade, rake, turf, board.

Step One:

A good lawn is a long-term project, so start with a good base. Good drainage is essential, so dig over (if necessary) to loosen the soil, then rake to level it and remove stones. Add fertiliser and rake lightly into the soil.

Step 1 of 4How to turf a lawn

Step Two:

Starting at the furthest point, unroll the turf and lay it along a straight edge. It should be green and healthy-looking, not yellow.

Step 2 of 4How to turf a lawn

Step Three:

Lay brick-pattern, so the joints are staggered and press firmly so each roll is in good contact with the soil beneath.

Step 3 of 4How to turf a lawn

Step Four:

Use a board to firm the grass and save damaging it or creating depressions. Work loose soil into the joints to help the turves knit together quickly. Water well after laying to stop the turf drying and shrinking.

Step 4 of 4How to turf a lawn

How to: New orchids from old


Moth orchids (Phaelenopsis) vary slightly in their flowering habit. Some produce another batch of flower buds at the tip of the current flowering stem, while others produce side shoots from lower down the stem, especially if you cut the stem back. Occasionally, instead of flower buds, a miniature plant is produced, known as a Keiki (Hawaiian for baby).

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, pot, orchid compost, plastic bag, rubber band.

Step One:

If your plant does not produce more buds at the tip of the flowering shoot, trim it back to just above the top stem bud.

Step 1 of 4How to: New orchids from old

Step Two:

Instead of a flowering shoot, you may get a new plant forming, known as a Keiki.

Step 2 of 4How to: New orchids from old

Step Three:

Once this has grown roots, it can be removed from the parent plant. Take a short section of stem with it, as this helps anchor it into a pot of compost.

Step 3 of 4How to: New orchids from old

Step Four:

Pot it into moist orchid compost and cover with a plastic bag, held in place with a rubber band to keep it humid while it establishes. Within a few weeks, it should begin to grow and can be treated the same as other orchids.

Step 4 of 4How to: New orchids from old

How to: Maintenance Pruning


On ornamental plants (not fruit) there are a few basic reasons why you should prune, best remembered as the 4 Ds: Dead, Dying, Damaged and Diseased. Next, remove crossing or rubbing branches, any that have reverted to green and for shape.

The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, pruning saw

Step One:

Dead wood is easiest to see and remove in summer. Cut back to healthy, pale-coloured wood.

Step 1 of 4How to: Maintenance Pruning

Step Two:

Die-back is common after early pruning where a rogue frost can catch you out. Cut back to just above a healthy bud.

Step 2 of 4How to: Maintenance Pruning

Step Three:

Larger dead stems should be removed with a pruning saw, working very carefully so you do not damage nearby shoots.

Step 3 of 4How to: Maintenance Pruning

Step Four:

Green shoots on a variegated plant should be removed, as they contain more chlorophyll and are stronger. If left, they will take over and you will lose the variegation.

Step 4 of 4How to: Maintenance Pruning

We hope these projects have given you a few ideas and a bit of inspiration for what to do in your garden this month.

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