What to do in your garden this month

This monthly guide is geared to London gardens and their unique conditions. Compiled by the RHS Wisley Plant Centre team
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Harvesting pumpkins
© Ali Cundy/RHS
It's time to harvest pumpkins and move them to a covered spot to allow the skins to dry

Must do in your garden this month

* This is the month to take stock and move plants around to give your garden the look you want next season. Herbaceous plants can be lifted, split and replanted while the soil is still warm enough to get the roots established. Remember to use “Rootgrow” to help the plants set good roots.

* Pumpkins and gourds can be harvested now and moved to a sheltered, covered spot to allow the skins to dry and harden.

* If Dahlias and Cannas get frosted, allow the foliage to brown, cut it back and then lift and store them in a frost-free area in boxes of dry soil or wood shavings. Dust them with sulphur powder to reduce rot.

* Broad beans can be sown for an early crop next June. Sweet peas sown now will be hardened off enough to stand the winter and should flower earlier.

* Cut to the ground any finished crops of peas and beans but leave their roots in the ground as they store valuable nitrogen. Dig the area over to keep this source of plant food for next year.

* Winter lettuce, salad carrots and radishes can now be sown in the greenhouse.

* As the foliage of main-crop potatoes starts to die back, cut the stems to the ground and leave the crop in the ground to allow any blight spores to die off before lifting.

* When late strawberries have finished cropping, clean all old foliage and stray runners from the plants to remove any host areas for fungal diseases. Top-dress with a general fertilizer.

* Plant garlic bulbs. They are late in the shops this year because they couldn’t be lifted in August - the wettest for 70 years.

Planting tulips
© Tim Sandall/RHS
To reduce the risk of virus, wait until the end of October to plant tulip bulbs
* September was the month for purchasing and planting Narcissus. This month it’s the turn of tulips. Most tulips benefit from a later planting to reduce the risk of virus, so the end of October is ideal.

Nice to do in your garden this month

* Gooseberries and blackcurrants can be pruned back now. Remove fruited-stems and then top-dress with fish blood and bone or calcified seaweed.

* Plant Japanese onion sets to give you an earlier crop next year.

* Stop paths from becoming slimy and mossy with an application of iron sulphate. One ounce in a gallon of water (Victorian measurement) watered over a scrubbed path should be a good prevention and if it runs on to the soil it should not affect your plants.

* Lift and divide over-crowded rhubarb crowns if you can get down deep enough.

* Remember when you are making hearty winter soups from your home-grown vegetables that all those skins can be added to your compost heap. Look at your local council's website for a comprehensive guide on what can be composted - you will be surprised.

* Prune back roses as they finish, to open up the bushes to good airflow and to prevent the plants being blown around in autumn gales.

* Harvest apples as they ripen and check for pests before storing in cool, dry conditions. Keep the fruit from touching in trays to prevent one rotten apple ruining your crop.

* Any containers with succulent plants will benefit from being put under cover to prevent winter weather conditions from bursting the leaves and stems. If left out you can just use a pane of glass held above the plants by bricks to get the rain to run off.

* Remember to keep up the torchlight slug and snail patrol. The more picked up and removed now, the less in the garden to start on tender shoots in the spring.

* Finally, get out into the countryside and look for hips and sloes for making flavoured gin. Only pick from public places and wash thoroughly before use. Recipes can be found online.

All images provided courtesy of the Royal Horticultural Society. Visit the online print shop at www.rhsprints.co.uk.

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