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Autumn has Arrived, Time to Tidy

Our extraordinary hot and dry summer now seems like a distant memory as the nights draw in and the morning chill necessitates more layers for those dog walks. Wondering around the garden one notices the weeds have come back in abundance and the lawns are now littered with leaves. Now is the time to do some last minute jobs before we all relax by the fire with our seed catalogues by our side.

The following are just a few of the jobs in the 'Grow Your Own' category that the RHS recommend for October. Visit for a complete list.

Sowing and planting


  • Place orders for bare-root fruit trees and bushes to plant in January and February. Make sure raspberries are listed as virus-free stock.

  • Take cuttings of existing currants and gooseberries.


  • Plant garlic cloves and autumn onion sets for crops in early to mid-summer.

  • Sow overwintering broad beans and peas in situ. Cover broad beans with fleece to provide insulation in colder areas and protect against birds.

  • Plant out spring cabbages. Remember to net them for protection from pigeons.

  • Sow green manures in empty beds to help nourish the depleted soils.


  • Check stored apples regularly and remove rotting fruit.

  • Remove all plant debris from the vegetable patch or allotment, to reduce the spread and the overwintering of disease and pests.

General care


Autumn is also a good time to mulch under fruit trees and bushes with either garden compost, woodchip or bark chippings. Chippings will help keep weeds down while garden compost will improve soil structure and fertility.


  • Dig up outdoor tomato plants and hang them upside-down in the greenhouse to allow the fruits to ripen. Any that don’t ripen can be used green in chutneys.

  • When clearing old pea and bean plants, simply cut off the tops for the compost heap, and dig the roots into the soil. They return valuable nitrogen to the earth, acting as a natural fertiliser.

  • If you have heavy clay soil, October is a good time for digging over vacant areas of the vegetable plot or putting on a thick layer of mulch as the approaching cold weather may help to improve the soil structure by breaking down large clumps into crumbly particles and worms will draw the mulch down into the soil.

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