Garden Notes for October

This is the month when the soil is warm and not too wet and plants make roots quickly. It is the best month for planting most herbaceous perennials. Many will not make much top growth before spring so marking with a label will help you to leave them undisturbed when you put in some more late bulbs. Divide overgrown clumps and replant the new, vigorous pieces from the outside of the clump. After planting the border can be mulched with compost, but don't give any more feed until the spring. It is also time to put the garden to bed and to take in the more tender things, geraniums (pelargoniums), cymbidium orchids, citrus and even olives- if they are still small enough! If your herbs are all in the ground it is worth buying some in small pots for a windowsill indoors. They can be planted out next spring and you will have had fresh herbs all winter. All those plants that self-seed in the garden can be encouraged to grow just where you want them next season. Collect the seeds now (on a dry day) and store them in envelopes in the fridge. Next spring sow them where you want them covered lightly with a layer of soil. I already have a collection of seed for next year – marigold, love-in-a-mist, poppies, cerinthe, sweet peas, lychnis, antirrhinum. Even agapanthus, hollyhock and dierama will seed themselves quite happily but will take 2 or 3 years to flower. Main crop potatoes should be dug up by now – leave on the ground to dry for a day, put into paper or hessian sacks and store in the dark or they will shoot and turn green. Green potatoes contain toxins – do not eat! Try to store potatoes just above 5C (45F) or they will become sweet and sugary. Apples on the other hand need a cold storeroom (mine is the garage) and perfect fruit can be wrapped in paper and stored in trays. Early varieties are best eaten (Discovery) Mid-season will keep for about a month and late (Ashmeads Kernel) will keep well beyond Xmas. We dry onions on the slats in the greenhouse till the skins ripen and rustle, but we use the ones with thick necks – they will not keep. If you need any more colour in the border for next year, shrubs/trees to give height or soft fruit bushes or fruit trees to make your garden more productive - just a reminder that we have our usual autumn sale to clear out this year's plants at an amazing 40% off with 30% off all our pots!!!

Marion, Blue Gecko Plants, 01386 751 802