Top-tips for October

It's here..........the slight chill in the air but the promise of harvest, colour, real fires and bonfires. When the sky is clear blue there is no better time of year to marvel at shapes, colours, back-lit grasses, spiders webs and subtle shades of gold.

So what to do in the garden?

Clearing the leaves; remember that leaves create a natural thermal layer for herbaceous plants as well as providing compost. You can make a tidy garden if you want ( who wants leaves to skid on in the drive?) but why do more work than you need to? They do a great job staying on the borders and if you have the energy add them to the compost heap, but they will do a similar job lying on soil.

Herbaceous plants; As soon as they stop looking like they are going to produce any more flowers or growth you can get stuck into lifting and dividing them. Be brutal - use two forks; they can take it! The usual cutting back of herbaceous plants to the base also applies; it will give your borders that tidy look. Again - you need not take the cuttings away; you will make a nice thermal layer for wildlife!

Lawns; If they have had a hammering then get on to adding feed asap.

Cutting back the roses; I am still getting flowers on my roses - so I am leaving that for the moment until the cold really kicks in and the wind and rain make a mess of them.

Soil; If you have heavy clay then now is the time to add that compost. Dig it in if you have the energy; the frost will help break it up. The compost will help give the soil a better 'structure' that means it retains nutrients better. The same applies to sandy and chalky soil and will assist in retaining moisture too. Nothing like that dark, crumbly matter called 'humus'. ( Not to be confused with something you dip your carrot strips into at dinner parties).

Did you know that humus has the same root as the word as humility? They are both humble, lowly and full of the ability to retain goodness! Interestingly humus comes from organic matter that has been broken down to it's lowest natural denominator.

I wonder if that applies to us human beings too?

And don't forget to take that bag with you when you go out on a walk past those blackberries and windfall apples.