Who switched the lights off? Suddenly the season has turned, spurred over the line by the tweaking of time and the disappearance of daylight by 5.00pm. The smells have changed too, there is a damp mustiness as fallen leaves moulder. The livestock still skips about, rats, mice and squirrels all foraging, gathering and storing in readiness for winter. The squirrels have been a particular nuisance this year, grubbing up bulbs and seeds then turning over new plantings to bury their booty. I have replanted so many pansies and a few days ago witnessed extraordinary acrobatics, as two squirrels set about scaling our sunflowers to gnaw off the heads which they duly carted off. I suspect there will be a few surprises in the compost heap next spring.
Whilst the day has shortened, when the mood and the moment suit, there are jobs to be done. You can still be planting, certainly for a week or two more over wintering bedding. Wherever possible pick up decent sized plants. It is late in the season and the ground is cooling, so bargain packs of small plug plants are almost a waste of money now. Look out for plants in pots or packs of 6 or 9 and check the underside of units to look for roots (if there are none put the plants back). You will still get away with bulb planting too. I love tulips, but will be planting more daffodils this time as they are less attractive to my marauding squirrels. Around the borders carry on cleaning up, cut back old herbaceous plants and consider whether you have space for anymore trees or shrubs which can be dropped in.
In the vegetable plot you can be planting onion sets, shallots and garlic and this is perfect timing for over wintering broad bean seed. They will all stand quite comfortably in the open across the winter. There are still a few vegetable plants to be had with spring cabbage and winter lettuce both on sale. If you are putting green vegetables out, or indeed already have, then do make sure that you have some netting available. The pigeons will find every leaf left in the open, they are merciless and will strip plants completely if given the chance.
And finally this month you will find bare root hedging and soft fruit plants become available. So if you need a new hedge or want to create a fruit garden this is the time to go for it.
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