October in the UK is a month when we begin to see the onset of colder evenings, and the inevitable approach of winter. For gardeners, the biggest issue with October weather is the fluctuations. Daily rises and falls in temperatures are sharper and usually at lower levels.
That is exaggerated in more Northern areas of the UK such as the North of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The weather can still be quite mild, but can suddenly dip very low in the evenings.
In October, the entire UK averages 13 days of rain, totaling 92 millimetres (3.6 inches). October temperatures average a daily high of 14 degrees Celsius (57 degrees Fahrenheit) and a low of 7 °C (44 °F).
The more North you go in the UK, the colder it will be, so the average temperature in the North will be lower, and at sometimes close to freezing point.
What Gardening Tasks Should You Have in Your Plan?
The UK Flower Garden
This is the month to lift and tender plants, that could be impacted by frost, and give them some winter protection. This also applies to dahlia and border chrysanthemums as soon as flowering is over. Dahlia roots should be lifted in tact with tubers and cut the stems to within 2" of the base. Then leave them to hang upside down to dry.
You can then dust these with a fungicidal powder and store in a dark and cool place.
You can also lift and divide clumps of "lily of the valley" and divide and replant those crowns near to each other.
You can also remove annual bedding plants, once the flowers have stopped, and use these in your compost heap or compost bin. Once the plants have been removed you can get your border fork out, and fork a dressing of compost into the flower bed.
If you want, at this stage, you could plant some bulbs such as pansies or wallflowers, which will bloom again in the Spring. Essentially October is a good month to tidy up your flowers, remove those that have served their purpose, and think about planting some bulbs for the following early Spring.
The Vegetable Garden
October is really the last month when you can lift potatoes, carrots, beetroot etc and store for the Winter. The only real exception to this is Celeriac, which is hardy enough to stay in the ground until December.
You can also cut down the stems of Jerusalem Artichokes as soo as they start to flag or turn yellow. Leave the tubers undisturbed and you can still harvest as an when required.
The Fruit Garden
You can continue to harvest apples as they ripen. There is a useful general rule to understand about apple varieties. The longer an apple variety keeps, the later it should be picked. If you are going to store apples, then they need to be stored in a well ventilated area that has a little moisture and an even temperature of around 5-7 degrees Celsius.
Always keep a close eye on stored apples and remove any that go soft or look and smell rotten.
You can continue to harvest pears as they ripen. These can also be stored but never store these with other fruit.
Gather the fruit of any later varieties but leave the garden canes there until March. At that time they can be cut back to soil level. If you has some raspberry bushes that you harvested in earlier months, you can then cut those stems back to soil level now.
You can take cuttings of black, red or white currants at this time. With blackcurrants cut them to 8-10" long, and just below a bud. Leave the buds in tact and place them in a trench with a couple of buds above the ground. If these start to grow you can then plant them out a year later.
With red or white currants you can also cut these back, but leave all their buds on
October Garden Summary
So in the UK, October for gardeners can still be a busy month of activity. This is a good month for final trims of hedges, cutting the lawn and tidying up borders etc. November does get much colder, so October is a good month to get the gardens as neat as you can.