News and announcements from Grosvenor Garden Centre, Chester

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Gardening tips for October

Autumn has arrived and it is time to tidy your garden as cooler nights and even more rain encourages summer flowers to die back and the leaves on the trees begin to turn coppery before they fall.

There is much to do in your garden this month with new seeds to sow, bulbs and bedding to plant in your borders so use the month of October to make plans and ensure your garden receives a bit of TLC before the winter months set in.

TLC for your autumn lawn

TLC for your autumn lawn

The first step is to discard all remaining summer flowers from your borders and create space for new spring bulbs and winter flowering bedding. Start this early as our usual autumn weather should ensure the soil remains warmer at the beginning of October than as we head towards the end of the month.  This will encourage stronger new roots from both bedding and bulbs which will give them all a greater chance of producing a good display.

We have a great selection of spring flowering bulbs in now

We have a great selection of spring flowering bulbs in now

Enrich your borders with compost after removing all the summer bedding.  If you are using homemade compost, choose lower layers from the compost heap as this has had longer to rot down and amalgamate to improve the structure and drainage of your soil.

For alternatives to homemade compost, simply call in and choose a soil conditioner or farmyard manure will do the trick just as well.

When we see the first frosts, take a look at your dahlias and canna lilies as the leaves will begin to turn soft, brown and limp.  This is their way of telling you that their season is over and the tubers need to be dug up ready for storage over the winter. Make sure you dry each tuber thoroughly, removing any soil and then wrap them in newspaper.  You may find it easier to cut off the stem 15cm above the tuber to completely destroy any rot.  Place your tubers upside down in a cardboard box before packing away around three or four days later. Choose a cool, protected area to store your tubers over the winter.

You can sow grass seed this month but remember to prepare your lawn in advance and choose the correct mixture.  Autumn is a good month to sow a new lawn or replenish your existing one. Use a glyphosate-based weedkiller to kill broadleaved weeds and perennial grasses.  Leave the lawn for two to three weeks after you have treated it to ensure the roots have been killed, before levelling the surface and enriching your lawn soil for a thicker, lusher lawn.

Your baskets and containers should continue to be used through the winter with winter flowering bedding, fresh compost and a good, slow-release plant food.  Choose plants with good leaf texture and easy to flower plants.

Heuchera Tiramisu will do well in winter containers

Heuchera Tiramisu will do well in winter containers

Compact shrubs such as hebe, skimmia and euonymus will provide a focal point or try heucheras for good leaf colour.  Ivy can provide a trail of interest but why not look for something slightly more unusual, such as Carex comans or new edging plants including tumbling pansies and violas that will trail over the edges of your pots and continue to flower. Don’t forget, we have plenty of ready-made pots and baskets so if you want to add colour to your autumn and winter garden, all you need to do is remember to water regularly and feed occasionally!

Attractive winter displays from decorative brassicas

Attractive winter displays from decorative brassicas

Some tomatoes did not have a good season this year and it is now time to pick off any green or ripe tomatoes for the last time this year. Ripen on a windowsill or use as an ingredient in a delicious chutney. Cut back the stems of the tomato plants to ground level and allow the compost in your growing bags to dry out ready to be used for storage of other homegrown crops.

Harvest butternut squash now

Harvest butternut squash now

Before the first frost cut and dry off any butternut squash or marrows for winter storage. If the skins are already hard, they can be placed directly in a frost-free area to store.  Otherwise, leave them for a few days on a sunny windowsill to continue to mature.

Harvest all your remaining carrots and potatoes so that they are not lost to slugs and snails.  Check them for any signs of pest damage before washing and storing only those that remain perfect.

Watch your brassica plants for late attacks of aphids, whitefly and caterpillars. Discard any yellowing or decaying leaves from vegetables to improve air circulation.

Pick the last autumn raspberries

Pick the last autumn raspberries

Continue to pick apples as they ripen and finish picking the last of the autumn raspberries from this year’s canes. Instead of taking out these fruited canes completely, try cutting them down to half their length so that they produce an early crop next year.

You can plant garlic cloves now, which should then be ripe and ready for eating by the middle of next summer.

Finally, enjoy the hiatus of October before the countdown to Christmas begins in earnest next month!

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