October in the garden: An elaborate guide for all gardening enthusiasts
October is when autumn begins; this can be seen outside everywhere, and this month, your garden will be going through a number of changes. As a gardener, it’s essential to be aware of what is happening outside and how to care for your garden to prepare well for winter optimally. What are you planting and harvesting this month? What garden care tasks do you need to do this month, and how is your pond doing? All the information you need about gardening in October can be found here!
Planting and sowing
You can still plant and sow in October, although at a lower level than in previous months. What can you add to your vegetable garden this month, and is it also possible to brighten up the rest of your garden even further? Naturally! Read on for all planting and sowing options this month.
In the vegetable garden
You can still put a fantastic variety of crops in the vegetable garden. Think of the kiwi, for example! In contrast to the well-known classic kiwis, which only do well in greenhouses in most of North-Western Europe, you can still plant the less wind- and temperature-sensitive green kiwi. Other crops that can still be sown or planted are raspberries, rhubarb and evergreen strawberries.
Do you already have a cold container? They are also called winter containers, closed containers in which you can grow different plants. Cold containers are suitable to protect these plants from the winter cold and harsh weather conditions. This way, you get to enjoy other crops all winter long that you would otherwise only have been able to harvest during spring. This is what you can put in your cold container:
- Winter onion
- Winter spinach (definitely not the same as ordinary spinach!)
- Lamb's lettuce
- Winter lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
- Broad beans
Outside the vegetable garden
There is still plenty to do outside the vegetable garden in October. Biennial plants that form leaf rosettes for the winter and flower after can be planted around this time. If you want to add some evergreens to your garden, plant them now so they have enough time to adapt to the new soil before the icy cold hits. (re)plant deciduous trees and shrubs now. If you want to plant fruit trees, you can also do that. Some plants need a cold period to germinate. These are conveniently called cold germinators. Finally, October lends itself well to planting self-adhesive climbers.
Looking for some plant inspiration to plant in your garden this month? Here are 9 plants that can go into the ground now:
- Annual poppy
- Sweet pea
You are not entirely done harvesting in October, either. On the contrary: you can still get a wide variety of fruits and vegetables out of your vegetable garden this month! For example:
- Cos lettuce / Romaine lettuce
- Napa cabbage
- Iceberg lettuce
- Head lettuce
- Bok choy
- Bell pepper
- Black Spanish radish
- Brussels sprouts
- Black salsify
- Ornamental gourds
- Leaf celery
- Lamb’s lettuce
If you haven’t taken in your bulbs that aren’t hardy yet, note that it’s about time you take care of this task. In October, the chance of night frost increases, which means these bulbs will not survive outside. By keeping them indoors in a dry and frost-free place, you keep them fresh and reusable for next year.
Growing and blooming
Naturally, you’d want to enjoy a colourful garden full of beautiful flowers for as long as possible. Fortunately, that is also possible in October! Plenty of late-flowering plants can also brighten up your garden in the fall. Not only do these flowers look beautiful, but you also provide an enormous service to insects that come to look for food at the last minute. If you're still looking for inspiration, here's a handy list of beautiful fall flowers!
- White-pink clouds of flowers from July until the first frost: you can enjoy Lindheimer’s Beeblossom for a long time.
- A rewarding late bloomer that also blooms in October is the Coneflower; Treat this plant to a sunny spot, and it will reward you with the well-known sea of colourful flowers.
- You will not regret putting Vervain in your garden. This strong border plant flowers in lush purple tassels and will continue to flower through November!
- They almost seem to light up, the striking white plumes of Black Cohosh. Especially in the soft autumn light.
- Another highly recommended is the “Orange Peel” Leather Flower, a striking autumn bloomer that produces small nodding yellow-orange bells well into October.
- Red Hot Pokers provide your garden with a flaming yellow-orange colour in the autumn. It prefers partial shade in well-drained, nutrient-rich soil (not too wet in winter) and flowers from July to October.
- As the name suggests, the Autumn Aster is a beautiful late-flowering plant for your garden. They bloom beautifully (usually lilac) in September and October and also attract all kinds of insects.
- A real winner for the autumn is the Japanese Anemone. The white 'Honorine Jobert' is a favourite among many gardeners because it can reach a height of 120 cm, grows into a ground cover plant after a mild winter and is also a good cut flower.
- We find the Autumn Crocus more often in garden centers these days; they sell this purple-flowering crocus lookalike as a plant that likes shady places and loose, humus-rich soil.
Pruning and cutting
As you can see, plenty of blooming will still happen in October, but that does not take away from the fact that most plants have finished flowering, and your garden is probably starting to look a bit withered. Time to grab the pruning shears! What can be cut down this month?
Plenty of plant species can do with a bit of pruning in October. Take rose bushes, for example. Prune these down to knee height so they can save their strength for the winter. Many gardeners feel the urge to leave rose hips, but maintaining these costs the plant much energy. So cut them right off! Hydrangeas can also be pruned; give your hydrangea a root pruning as soon as it has lost all its leaves. You can do this by inserting a sharp spade into the ground in a radius of half a meter around the core of the plant. This treatment will benefit the flower formation of next year.
Many trees also need pruning in October. For many tree species, this is the moment when the sap flow decreases; if you prune now, your tree is less likely to bleed. You can also continue to mow the lawn, provided it’s not wet. Consider using a branch shredder if you’ve got a lot of leftover pruning waste. These devices are for sale or rent, and the chips it produces are very suitable as mulch. By the way, leave perennials with pretty-looking seed pods intact. They look nice, and they can function as bird food.
Taking care of the garden
There is still plenty to do in the garden. Everything has to be cleaned up, cared for and maintained. Here you have a handy overview of how you can best take care of your garden so that it’ll survive the month of October in good health.
If you have trees in or near your garden, you will have noticed by now that they are dropping their leaves and especially that these leaves end up everywhere. Leaving them out can cause several problems, so get them off…
- Your lawn. Especially when it is wet, the grass underneath can start to get mouldy.
- Your terrace and your pathways. Autumn leaves can get slippery, especially when wet.
- Your gutters! If you have many leaves in there, they will inevitably get clogged.
It would help if you started mulching in October. The leaves you have just removed from your garden and your roof happen to be very suitable for this. You can also use organic waste from your compost heap. Cover the soil above the roots of your plants with a layer of mulch to better protect them from cold and frost. Do you want to fertilize this month? Then be careful with that. In any case, ensure the fertilizer is not nitrogen-rich, as this promotes leaf growth, which shouldn’t be happening in winter. Winter fertilizer should contain potassium, stimulating root growth and good water management.
Coming back to mulching – do you already have a compost bin? If not, it’s highly recommended for your garden's general health and sustainability. Compost provides new nutrients for your plants, you save on municipal waste costs, and it is even more nature-friendly. A compost bin does not stink and requires little maintenance since the entire composting process runs automatically.
What can you do for the animals in your garden this month? Let's start with the pond. Keep removing leaves and other (organic) waste. After mid-October, however, make sure not to interfere too much with the pond. It will go into a resting state and has to survive the winter on its own. As soon as temperatures drop, it would be best if you also stopped feeding the fish.
Check your birdhouses! These will soon be inhabited by wintering birds looking for a safe hiding place. Clean them well; otherwise, vermin and parasites might settle in your nest boxes. In addition, a bird feeder and a drinking bowl also make good additions to your backyard to lend your feathered friends a helping hand. Want to do even more? Some plants that bear berries or nuts provide birds in your garden with a fantastic and reliable food source. Here are a few shrubs that would be very suitable for your garden for that reason:
- Roses with hips
- Scotch Broom
- Flowering Quince
Finally, mice will sometimes want to come and live in your garden for the winter. If you have a cold box, a greenhouse or a shed, regularly check it for mice.
A few more helpful tips:
- It will probably rain more in October, which might put your garden at risk of flooding. Keep this in mind. Do you like to be proactive? Then opt for a garden with as few tiles as possible! They allow very little water to pass through, increasing the risk of problems such as flooding.
- Did you know that the chance of night frost is greater in sunny weather than when the skies are cloudy and rainy? In any case, keep the weather forecasts in mind this month; you might have to quickly bring plants indoors or offer extra care if it turns out to be freezing.
- Could garden lighting be helpful to you? Not only does garden lighting look nice and give your garden a romantic and cozy atmosphere, but it can also protect against unwanted intruders. For example, choose solar panel-illuminated lights!