Gardening in October is time to tidy, clean and prepare for Winter

Gardening in October time to clean, tidy and prepare for winter

I hate being the bearer of bad news but once October is here it is largely time to accept the inevitable! Prepare for Winter it’s on its way and it is time to get Gardening and prepare ready for cold winds and harsh weather conditions.

Before you give up all hope on growing fresh produce at the end of this list are a few things you can do to prolong the harvest period with winter vegetable sowing and clean your Garden for shorter days.

Ten Top tips for keeping your Garden in optimum condition in October. 1. Mild Autumn and Sunny days means that pests and diseases are still active, be sure to clean and clear all decaying leaves from around your cherished plants. Roses in particular are renowned for harbouring black spot, mildew and pests on dead leaves and stems. Cut away deadwood and gather all leaves from around you bushes before mulching with well-rotted manure for extra winter protection.

Clean away debris
Remove diseased leaves and stems from roses now.

2. Now is the time to tie in those climbers and wall shrubs, check that existing ties are secure and not causing damage to delicate stems. Use Flexi tree ties  to provide support to climbers and wall shrubs without damage.

We secure straining wires on all our walls, these provide plenty of opportunities to tie in our climbers as they grow and develop and network of climbing tiers and branches.

Tie in climbers and wall shrubs
Tie in those precious shoots to stop winter damage.

3.  There is always room for more strawberry plants, but instead of rushing to the garden centre to buy more, first take a look at your more productive strawberry plants and you will see lots of rooted cuttings called runners these can be grown on to produce identical plants to the parent plant. Learn how to propagate Strawberries here!

How to grow more strawberries
Strawberries plants need replacing every three-four years propagate now to keep plants fresh and profitable.

4. Rhubarb a fast growing perennial needs to be kept in check and if you failed to complete this task in September here’s another chance. Select the oldest rhubarb plant ideally two-three years old, lift, divide and re-plant the healthy sections, for a detailed step by step guide on How to divide Rhubarb click here 

5.  Storing vegetables for winter is an important aspect of vegetable production, growing fresh produce and harvesting crops in the summer is great but how you going to keep all these roots and bulbs through the winter months? Read my guide to storing fruit and vegetables.

6. Squash and Pumpkin should now be ripening in the Sun to harden the outer shell, this is essential to help preserve the fleshy interior. Avoid early frosts at all costs! Learn about Curing Pumpkin and Squash Autumn harvest for extended storage life.

7. Cleaning out your glasshouse and cold frames is an essential job during October, time to clean and disinfect the glass and frames, prior to setting and winter seeds or bulbs. Often a job gardeners tend to avoid but the satisfaction of tidying and organising your work area and growing room is priceless. Makes sure you fill all those holes and draughts to stop both a) rodents looking for a free lunch and b) to stop the cold winter winds from damaging your precious overwintering plants or vegetables.

A clean and tidy glasshouse free from peats and disease.
A clean and tidy glasshouse free from peats and disease.

8. Now that the leaves are beginning to fall and the conkers, nuts and acorns are littering the ground, gathering and safely disposing of them is a task you won’t want to neglect. Seedlings from the surplus tree fruits can be a nuisance and a persistent weed in many a garden border, not to mention the rodents that are attracted to the tasty harvest.

Leaves will quickly gather in gutters and drains not to mention your pond or water feature. Gathering leaves may seem pointless task until Autumn is over but raking little and often will not only protect your lawn but provide you with a nice gentle exercise rather than a heavy chore, collecting a large amount of wet leaves all at once.

Gather Autumn leaves before they cause trouble.
Gather Autumn leaves before they cause trouble.

9. If you have had the foresight to have spent this summer collecting seeds from your prized perennials and vegetables then a wet and windy October day is the perfect time to sort though your collection.

Separating the seeds from the chaff, husks and dried petals can be a difficult task, by speeding out a large sheet of white paper and using a paint brush or tweezers you can easily sort the seeds and store them in small envelopes for sowing in the Spring.

Remember some perennials can be sown immediately, such as Hollyhocks, Delphinium, Foxgloves and Lupins that benefit from late Autumn sowing.

Delphiniums sown in Autumn may flower in their first season.
Delphiniums sown in Autumn may flower in their first season.

10. Start those winter onions, garlic and shallots in plug trays, not only will you get a much better success rate but you can also ensure they get optimum conditions from the onset.

Planting winter vegetable bulbs provides them with the cold start that they need to be successful, an early setting of hardy vegetables like peas, broad beans, runner beans and even sweet peas.

Late Autumn sowing will help you get ahead by up to six weeks, meaning that when have just planted their spring vegetables you will already have good-sized hardy plants that will be harvesting long before your neighbours.

Winter sowing of broad beans
Winter sowing of broad beans.

Stephen raised on a farm in Mid Wales, trained in horticulture under apprenticeship with the National Trust and has worked in several prestigious locations around the world. Today as Head Gardener for a large private estate on the outskirts of London, a keen plants-man, horticulturist and nature lover.

Managing large formal gardens, growing a huge range of fruit, vegetables and homemade produce for the estate residents. Stephen with assistance from a team of professional garden and farm staff, cares for livestock, including cattle, sheep, poultry and horses, completes property maintenance and grounds management.

Stephen believes knowledge is to be shared and thanks to some amazing mentors in his career path hopes to be able to share this knowledge with others like you and your friends all he asks in return is that you find the time to leave a brief comment and share socially with your friends.

Grow with me on


Stephen Pryce-Lea

Head Gardener and International Horticultural Consulatant




“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, when you find it in a Garden it’s like finding Paradise“

iGrowHort – A Head Gardener’s Horticultural Journey of love, life and learning.


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About Head Gardener 291 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”


  1. So many things to do in the garden this time of the year. I appreciate the check list.

  2. A lot of great information. I unfortunately kill all my plants. I do have a Hydrangea and rose bush that i have managed to keep a live over the years, but worried about trimming the hydrangea too much. I also live in San Diego so our winters don’t get that cold.

  3. Those autumn leaves are the worst part of fall. You gardeners have your work cut out for you.

    On a side note my younger sister just started a commercial vegetable farm. I would be pointing her in your direction.

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