Dry your barley in October or you’ll always be sober.
English folk rhyme
If you don’t dry your barley you will have no malt to brew your beer, folklore tells us. Old rhymes and songs have many tips for us gardeners to help us throughout the gardening year.
Many point to October as a dramatic month of changing colour and this year is no exception as we embrace colder mornings and our Indian summer slips away.
When the first frosts arrive it’s time to lift dahlia and canna tubers and rhizomes along with tender bulbs for storing over the winter. Tender plants such as pelargoniums can be moved to a greenhouse or conservatory and the last of the summer bedding cleared to make way for autumn planting and new herbaceous perennials.
Margeurites, begonias and salvias make way for wallflowers, forget-me-nots, polyanthus and primrose spring bedding. Borders will benefit from a feed of bonemeal which provides phosphates and lime. It’s the time for moving and planting shrubs and trees, taking hardwood cuttings of berberis and buddleia, cornus and cotoneaster, and gathering seeds from favourite plants.
Keep planting spring bulbs but wait until November to plant tulips. Clearing fallen leaves seems a continuous task but they can be turned into leaf mould and along with rotted down soft refuse, green stems, grass clippings and damaged fruit applied as a compost. It may seem a long way off but it’s a good time to look around at autumn’s colours and consider your colour schemes for October next year.
- Collect seed heads and pods in paper bags, label and store in a dark place until sowing time
- Lift moveable pumps from ponds and overwinter tender aquatic plants in a warm place
- Take cuttings of escallonia, roses, jasmine, kerria and philadelphus
- Clear leaves off rockeries and plant containers for winter colour
- Sow sweet peas in pots in a cool greenhouse
- Pot up lily bulbs
- Cut back fading herbaceous perennials
- Plant deciduous or coniferous hedges
- Plant winter pansies, wallflowers, bellis and primulas