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SEEDS of change.

Byline: BY TOBY MUSGRAVE The TV Gardener

IF you have a wooden deck, then give it a wash with a solution of Jeyes Fluid to eliminate algal growth and the associated problems of slipping.

Also empty hoses, turn off outside water supplies, empty pipes and lag them to prevent the risk of frost damage.

Once the first frost has hit, remove tender bedding shows and wither lift dahlias and cannas, or protect them with a pile of straw - something I am going to try this year.

It's also a good time to transplant or move plants around the garden, should you so desire, and take a tour round to check that all climbers are tied in and if you are using them, tree stakes are firmly set.

If you want a new one, lay a lawn this month, and if you have one, begin the autumn schedule of lawn care.

Raise the mower cut, dig out perennial weeds, give the lawn a last feed, and get on with the scarifying, and aerating.

Also rake up all fallen leaves to prevent the grass beneath yellowing, and brush worm casts over the lawn.

Similarly, if you have a pool, put chicken wire across it to catch falling leaves. Also cut back and protect Gunnera crowns, but keep feeding the fish this month.

On the subject of frost, best get any tender house plants that have been enjoying a summer holiday outside, back in side. Give them a good wash down first, and a last feed with a liquid fertiliser.

Once the dormant season has started you can begin to take root cuttings and to divide over-crowded perennials.

But don't if the soil is too wet or cold (ha!) Also remember to keep the newly taken cuttings sheltered from the frost and too much rain.

It's also time to have a good clean-up in the vegetable garden. Cut back blackberry canes and sort out raspberries if not done yet.

Also, don't compost, but throw away any diseased or damaged bits of old leaves and fallen, damaged fruit, and prepare the beds for their November dig-over and manure-incorporation.

Give the greenhouse an autumn clean so bugs won't over winter here, put up an insulating layer of bubble-wrap, and check heaters are working. It's the month to plant hardy garlic, plant out spring cabbages, and sow in situ broad beans that will overwinter, and if you want an early crop, sow carrots and peas wither in a cold greenhouse, or under a cover of horticultural fleece.

Also, once their leaves have dropped, you should take hardwood cuttings of currants and gooseberries.

Lift potatoes and any remaining onions by mid-month, and store inside, also harvest squash and pumpkins when ripe and bring indoors.

Any outdoor tomatoes should be picked and ripened on a warm window ledge. And you should pick fruit.

In the case of apples store on an apple rack or laid out on cardboard and in a cool, dry place away from onions and other pungent produce. And in the case of soft fruit, preserve by freezing or bottling.

Then place mouse controls near stored fruit and vegetables.

ASK TOBY

Q Why fo the buds on my eight-year- old oleander bush never develop into flowers? It would be lovely to see it in bloom.

MR WILLS, Kineton, Warks

A The fact that your oleander is putting on buds suggests that it is healthy, but there are an number of reasons why they do not flower. Oleanders require a hot, sunny spot and it may not be getting sufficient heat and light.

Next year, try it indoors in a prime sunny spot. Alternatively it may be pot bound - tap it out and see if the root system is filling the pot, if so, repot, this may solve the problem.

TOP TIPS

1. If you are feeling energetic, now is a perfect time to make a rock garden. It is also a good idea to reposition those alpines, which have encroached on one another.

2. At this time of year you may see brown spots on the leaves of your irises. This is Leaf Spot. To control this problem, remove the leaves and burn them.

3. For the last time this season trim any hedges which have put on growth over the summer except those which are to flower on new growth next spring. It is also the best time to plant new evergreen hedges - but please think twice before planting Leylandii.

4. If you have used Gro-Bags or similar this summer, why not mix the spent compost with some well rotted organic manure and add to the garden. This is a cheap and cheerful way of improving soil texture and nutrient status.

5. Many bugs will over winter in the shelter of a greenhouse so have a good tidy up and 'autumn' clean to kill them off, also check all heating systems work before the first frost.

CAPTION(S):

PLANTING: a man prepares grass seed for a lawn next year
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Words:835
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