Half the fun of summer gardening is experimenting with the endless combinations of easy tender annuals that it is possible to grow over the warmer months.
- If not already sown all of the tender annuals ( Zinnia, Cosmos, Celosia, Gomphrena, Torenia, Tagetes, Tithonia etc) will need to done so this month. Their future homes can in the meantime be topped with a layer of compost whilst the young seedlings are developing and as spring bedding goes over and is removed.
Summer brings the opportunity to indulge in a few plants that are less than hardy in the garden and pots of them are the most convenient way to secure their future.
- Regular liquid feeding of pots is a necessity to produce a good show over the warmer months.
- As pots fill with roots watering becomes more pressing. If pots are grouped around a central reservoir then a wick system can be implemented ,not a substitute for a good soaking but certainly it will alleviate disastrous drying out on hot days.
- American seed companies are producing ground covering Zinnia varieties which should prove useful for summer colour in pots, our trials of them this season will be interesting.
- To avoid skewering lilies in pots we place a small stake next to the bulbs when potting them up, we then replace this with larger stakes a required up until flowering.
- Old pots of Fuchsia will be ripe for a prune and re-pot - completely bare the roots and pot into potting mix amended with extra peat or compost to make sure they don't dry out in summer.
- Pots of scented Geranium that have been over-wintered can be re-potted into fresh soil this month ready for another season of delicious scent.
- Pots of Hippeastrum will be starting into growth , dose with a liquid feed and keep well-watered and protected from snails and slugs
All of the preparations earlier in the year will be paying dividends this month.
- Young Chrysanthemum plants should be in their flowering positions by the end of this month. Pinching back when about 30cm tall will encourage more flowers.
- In cooler areas spring planted Sweet Peas will be getting a go on, a fortnightly feeding with compost tea from now on will ensure a bounty of flowers.
- Apart from the many trays of seed sown for the nursery , October is the month when we sow seed for our late summer annual display. Varieties of Zinnia, Cosmos , Tagete and Tithonia are sown a few seeds to a pot or cell in trays. Duplicate seedlings are snipped away leaving the strongest to grow on. We find this much easier than struggling with seasonal vagaries and predators if sown directly. As long as the young plants are not checked in any way they get off to a fine start when planted out in mid-December
- Umbels such as Daucus carota Dara, Ammi visnaga, and A. major much prefer a direct sowing though. As much of their charm depends on massed planting as if in the wild, this is most easily achieved by scattering the seed where they are to flower. It is easy enough to keep a few patches of this kind weed free.
- Birds of all kinds are at their busiest so any seed sown directly needs a protective mound of twigs to deter grazing and scratching
- Most particularly in the southern states and inland low night temperatures persist well into the latter part of November and the odd late frost can bring disaster. Keep young plants going with warmth, liquid feed and regular watering in a protected spot.
- Deadhead Sweet Peas regularly and keep well-watered, nothing brings their flowering to a halt more than drought and seed setting.