Ruth’s top tips for October: be fruitful and multiply.
1. Propagate hardwood cuttings
Propagation is easy this time of year. Most shrubs and fruit bushes are easily multiplied by hardwood cuttings in a trench made by sticking your spade in the soil 20cm deep, and wiggling it to and fro; pop some horticultural sand or grit in the bottom if your soil isn’t well drained, take several healthy, sturdy 30cm cuttings, trim to just below a leaf, take any leaves off the lower two thirds and pop the cuttings into the trench, firming the soil with your boot heel and remembering to label. They will be ready to plant out in a year.
2. Lift & divide herbaceous perennials
Herbaceous perennials can be lifted and divided if you are on light soil, on clay wait until late February; the younger growth should be used, enrich the soil and remember to firm in well.
3. Collect seed for sowing annuals next year
It’s also the right time to collect seeds and berries to grow new plants; hardy annuals can be sown now for an earlier display.
4. Plant out greens for spring
Now is the time to plant spring cabbages to get an early start for next season. And why not try planting lettuce or endives now for a quick harvest before the weather turns too cold and wet. Spring bedding, like wall- flowers and forget-me-nots, can also be planted out now plus spring bulbs.
5. Prepare the soil for fruit trees and bushes
Fruit trees and bushes can be planted out from next month so start soil preparation, like digging out perennial weed roots and adding organic matter; if your soil is heavy clay fork well into the bottom and sides of the hole, if it fills up with rain and doesn’t drain, then consider choosing a different location, or add gravel and don’t plant until early March.