Gardening tips


IN THE FLOWER GARDEN

• Continue to feed and deadhead hanging basket and container plants, they will often keep going until the first frosts.

• Keep deadheading annuals and perennials to extend their performance.

•Deadhead your penstemons, dahlias and roses to keep them flowering.

•Prune climbing and rambling roses once they’ve finished flowering.

• Keep camellias and rhododendrons well watered at this time of year to ensure that next year’s buds develop well.

IN THE FRUIT GARDEN

• Tidy up your strawberry plants and clear away any used straw.

• Pot up strawberry runner plants for next year.

• Pick ripe apples. To test when they are ripe, gently lift them in the palm of your hand or give them a gentle pull – they should come away easily if they’re ripe.

• Pick off rotting fruit from pear, apple and plum trees – they will spread disease if left on the tree.

• Cover wall-trained peach trees to prevent peach leaf curl from taking hold.

• Harvest plums. If you have more than you need, freeze them.

• Cut back the fruited canes of your summer raspberries, if you haven’t already, leaving the new green canes for next year’s crop. Tie in next year’s raspberry canes to support wires or fencing.

• Pick blackberries as they ripen and use straight away or freeze for later on.

IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN

• Keep harvesting crops. If you have a glut of fruit and veg try freezing, drying, pickling and storing.

• Pinch out the tip of outdoor cordon tomato plants to concentrate the plant’s energy into producing ripe fruits.

• Harvest sweetcorn. To test if it’s ready, pinch a kernel – it will release a milky white sap when ripe.

• Pull or cut off the foliage of maincrop potatoes at ground level three weeks before lifting them. Spread newly dug potatoes out to dry for a few hours before storing them in a cool, dark place.

• Help pumpkins ripen in time for Halloween by removing any leaves shadowing the fruits.

• Raise pumpkins and squashes off the ground to prevent rotting. Place them on a piece of slate or wood.

• Keep feeding and watering French and runner beans to make the most of them. Continue harvesting little and often to prevent them setting seed.

• Cut bean and pea plants away at ground level when they have finished cropping. Leave the roots which will slowly release nitrogen back into the soil as they break down.

• Start the autumn clean up. Remove any old crops that have finished and clear away weeds to leave your plot clean and tidy for the winter.

• Cover your brassicas with netting to prevent birds making a meal out of them.

LOOKING AFTER YOUR LAWN

• Raise the height of your mower blades as grass growth slows down.

• To avoid waterlogging in the winter aerate your lawn with a garden fork, removing thatch from the surface with a rake and repairing dead patches.

• Apply a special lawn top-dressing after carrying out maintenance work.

• Feed your lawn with an autumn fertiliser which is rich in potassium and low in nitrogen.

• Control lawn chafers/ leatherjackets with a biological control (nematodes).