October - Spring Gardening Tasks
Get stuck into the garden!
October has to be the most active month in the home garden with the planting of summer vegetables and flowering annuals. Trees, shrubs, and roses are all covered in new growth, requiring fertilising and mulching. Days are getting warmer and longer, the garden is calling!
With temperatures rising, now is an excellent time to add to your existing houseplant collection. Garden Centres are full of interesting specimens to grow indoors, and many are available online. Always consider what you want to achieve with your indoor plants (decoration, interest, screening etc) before choosing the new additions to your "family". Children can learn about plants by growing their own 'pet’ plants such as small succulents, cacti, baby houseplants, and air plants - these are all easy to cultivate. Use Daltons Premium Houseplant Mix or Daltons Premium Cacti and Succulent Mix.
October is the traditional month for planting summer vegetables, especially towards the end of the month when soils are warmer. There are so many vegetables that can be successfully cultivated in the home garden including beans, beetroot, carrots, celery, corn, courgettes, cucumbers, leeks, lettuces, melons, onions, radish, pumpkin, tomato and zucchini.
Don’t forget to rotate areas in your garden for ‘main crops’ and with so many vegetables to choose from, consider extending both the area of your vegetable garden and the range of vegetables that you cultivate. Be liberal with the use of compost when preparing existing and new vegetable gardens. Stagger plantings throughout summer to ensure continuous harvesting.
With the vast range of summer flowering annuals that are now available, October is the perfect month for replanting flower beds and containers. These include alyssum, asters, cornflowers, Californian poppy, cosmos, Livingston daisy, lobelia, marigolds, nemesia, petunia, portulacas, phlox, salvias, sweet peas, and zinnias. Plant single species ‘en masse’ for maximum effect or try combinations of different species. Prepare areas thoroughly prior to planting by adding fresh compost and fresh Daltons Premium Container Mix into tubs and containers.
Berries and Strawberries
Boysenberries, blackberries, raspberries, and loganberries should all be growing rapidly. Keep training new canes on supports or wire. Where there is excessive growth, remove any surplus canes. As temperatures rise it is time to stop ‘pinching’ out emerging flowers and allow the fruit to form. Mulch with pea straw or clean crushed bark to provide a ‘bed’ for the fruit. Towards the end of October cover the strawberry bed with bird netting otherwise our ‘feathered friends’ will quickly devour the crop! Feed your berry plants with Garden Time Berry Fertiliser or Garden Time Strawberry Fertiliser every 5-6 weeks and add a layer of much around plants. Be careful not to over fertilise which can cause more leaves than fruit – always follow the manufacturers recommended application rate on the bag.
Two citrus, Jamaican ugli and Seminole tangelo are now ripening, and grapefruit should now be quite sweet to eat as their cropping season comes to an end. Apply fruit tree fertiliser around all fruit trees, including newly planted trees as this promotes the establishment of a strong root system. Continue feeding at six weekly intervals until mid-December, recommencing in mid-February through till autumn. Fertiliser will also promote healthy young plant growth that will in future years become fruiting wood.
Towards the end of October plant fresh herbs such as chives, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme. Herbs will thrive in a hot, sunny position with light, free-draining soil. They also grow well in containers, but make sure they have enough drainage holes. Leave basil planting until early November when temperatures are warmer.
Early season flowering of roses in many parts of New Zealand can be most rewarding, so enjoy their beautiful displays! In early October, start applying Daltons Premium Rose and Flower Fertiliser and repeat every 5-6 weeks through till mid-December. Make sure to regularly dead-head (removing finished flowers) to encourage more blooms. Tie up climbing roses as their rate of growth in October can be phenomenal.
Grass is now growing and will require regular mowing (make sure your lawnmower blades are nice and sharp!). On established lawns, apply Daltons Premium Lawn Fertiliser every 4-5 weeks from October until Christmas, recommencing from late February to late April. Avoid fertilising lawns when they are very new – don’t start until they have a mature appearance. Any ‘patching’ repairs of existing lawns can be safely carried out – try our Daltons Premium Lawn Patching Gold which has everything in one bag and is easy to apply. If sowing a new lawn, check with local seed suppliers for advice on the recommended grass variety suited to your soil type, region, and use. The key to successfully laying any lawn lies in the preparation. If importing new topsoil onto your property, ensure it is excellent quality, pliable and weed-free. Water new lawns regularly to ensure the soil remains constantly moist, but do not overwater.
It is amazing what can be cultivated in containers; herbs, flowers, salad vegetables are simply the beginning of the container gardening success story! Always use fresh container or potting mix when planting into containers. These mixes are free draining and include vital nutrients for successful growth. Remember to check that the containers have adequate drainage holes.