Get your garden ready for the frosty winter
Now that we’ve reached October there can be no doubt that the days are getting cooler the evenings are decidedly chilly and the mornings are definitely dewy. With all this in mind the chances of overnight frosts increases. Early in the month, like now, that chance is small but the further into the month we venture towards November, then frost damage is going to happen unless you start to take some actions now.
I am planning to over winter my tender plants in my new-ish greenhouse. If you don’t have a greenhouse then now is the time to invest in some cloches which you can get from Baytree. Before I can move my tender plants to the greenhouse a little effort will be required to clean it from top to bottom.
That means washing all of the glass panels and staging with a mild disinfectant, sweeping out any fallen leave or vegetable matter from the floor, so that the greenhouse is empty and free from any diseases.
Greenhouses are great at being warm in the summer but just as good at being freezing cold in the winter. What I do is add extra insulation in the form of bubble wrap. You can buy bubble wrap on rolls with big bubbles and small bubbles. Personally, I prefer the larger bubbles as when you finished any scrap cut-offs are deeply therapeutic once you start popping them.
The great thing about this type of insulating material is that it will still allow light to enter the greenhouse but forms a barrier against the cold. On nights when I know it will be particularly cold I’ll have my greenhouse heater lit and on the go.
Plants such as Dahlias, Cannas, tuberous Begonia and Gladiola all benefit from being stored in their dormant state through winter. I know this may sound counter intuitive but you have to wait like I for the plant leaves to be blackened by the first frost.
Once this has happened, you can then cut these tender plants down to about 5cm above the ground. Then using a fork carefully lift the plants out of the soil being careful not to damage the tubers. Remove loose dirt and soil from the plants and store them in sand or vermiculite with the crown of the plant just showing.
Now should some of your tender plants be large and well established and clocheing them isn’t an option then mulching them over may well be your best bet. Mulching is the process of covering the soil around the base of the plant to create an insulating layer which will keep the soil under the mulch a few degrees higher than the soil around it.
A good mulch to use would be well rotten farm yard manure, bark chippings or all-purpose composts. All of these materials are readily available from any garden centre. Though whatever mulch you decide to apply just make sure you give the base of the plant a generous covering of at least 3 inches/ 8cm. That’s it, it’s just a waiting game now and all this talk of frost has made me fancy a cup of Horlicks. So I’m off to warm some milk.