Well it's been wet and windy these past few days as Storm Aiden passes. Tonight is Halloween and Bonfire Night is only a matter of a few days away. And this year both will be different to say the least...........
Winter is well and truly on its way. The leaves are falling as fast as you can either blow or rake them into piles, and the strength of the wind and frequency and amount of rain are all starting to increase. But that gives us an excuse for an enjoyable evening in - to light the fire, pour a sloe gin and while away an hour or two pouring over the seed catalogues and deciding what we'll all be sowing in the spring.
Here's our Top Ten jobs for the month:
Continue to clear up fallen leaves - especially from lawns, ponds and beds - and dispose of them properly. If they're not showing any signs of disease think leaf mould or add them to your compost bin. If your leaves don't look that healthy - particularly if your roses have black spot - then its probably best to burn them. We spent a good few hours recently raking and blowing the leaves from a number of lawns and now have loads to add to our leaf mould cage at the allotment.
Plant up your tulips. We ordered ours the other week - some dramatic Black Parrots - and planted them up with some Bridal Crown narcissi in an old galvanised water tank. Planted to the right depth and using our own homemade bulb compost we're hoping for an impressive display next year.
Give some TLC to your roses. Now's a good time to get the secateurs out and the gloves on and give them a prune. As the weather gets increasingly windy a snip here and a prune there will stand them in good stead for the winter and should prevent them rocking in the wind. And whilst you're doing that think about those leaves - if they're looking diseased pick them up and dispose of them properly. If you don't then it'll be likely that the disease will over winter and return in the spring.........
Check your containers. Prevent your pots and in turn your plants from becoming waterlogged by placing them off the ground. Use pot feet or some bricks to improve drainage. And whilst you're doing that think about insulating the pots to protect them from the impending frosts. Use bubblewrap or some old hessian sacking - if you can find some!
Plant out some Ps - not peas but primulas, pansies and polyanthas (and any other winter bedding plants that take your fancy)! Get them in now and enjoy some well needed brightness and colour all the way through to April.
Pick and protect your fruit trees. Whilst you're tidying up the leaves take some time to pick up the windfall apples and pick any that are ready and remain clinging to the tree (and then either eat them, store them or - as we're planning to do - juice them). Then think about winter moths and applying grease bands around the the trunk to prevent them from climbing up your trees and feasting on the developing fruit buds.
Continue to feed the birds. Those winter moths that we're trying to manage will be a useful food for the spring nesting birds but we're hoping that the moths will survive on our ornamental trees - where they'll do less harmful damage - and provide a treat for the birds whilst leaving our fruit trees alone. In the meantime though we need to put food out for the birds to encourage them into the garden over the winter months. We're making our own feeders with some coconuts, fat, our own sunflower seeds and some meal worms!
Protect your brassicas. Last month we planted out some spring cabbages. Despite being bird friendly and talking about feeding the birds over the winter months we didn't do that to provide food for the pigeons at the allotment! So we'll be getting our netting out and covering our cabbages to keep them at a suitable beak's length.
Don't waste water! So it's highly unlikely that we'll be needing to use the hose or watering can this month - or for the foreseeable future - but let's not let all this rain go to waste. Get a water butt sorted out, clean out the gutter that feeds it and start harvesting all that rain. You'll be glad you did when the long hot days of summer return and your plants are crying out for water!
Have a bonfire. Check that you're allowed - they're banned by our local allotment association - and then burn all of your diseased leaves and other garden waste that can't be added to the compost heap. Before you set it alight check that there aren't any hedgehogs that have bedded down for a sleep. Keep a safe distance and if you have any large potatoes left why not wrap a few in foil and bake them? As long of course that the wind and rain has passed.........
As we wake up this morning we're met with the news that we might be about to enter into a national lockdown. That might affect us all in our gardens but it'll be important for us to safely get outside and spend whatever time we can in our gardens and allotments.
As in previous months we’ll let you know what we get up to during the month. And as always if you have any questions or would like us to look at what you need to have done in your garden, then we’d be delighted to hear from you.
You can contact us through our facebook page, at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07734 365028.