GARDEN MASTERCLASS Toby Buckland Gardener and broadcaster delivers his expert advice Toby busy picking apples WHAT TO DO THIS MONTH For the best flavour, leave any green tomatoes on the vines to ripen rather than removing. There are various tomato-grower’s tricks to doing this, from cutting down on watering and snipping off any leaves that shade the fruit, to gently pulling on the main stem of the tomato plants until you hear some of the roots tear. This won’t kill the plant, but the underground damage will switch its focus from summer growth to reddening up the crop. Harvest and store apples. The fruit on the sunny side of the tree ripen first and are ready to pick when they come away in the palm of your hand with a gentle lift and twist. As a rule, the later an apple ripens, the longer it keeps and varieties like ‘Laxton Superb’ ‘Kidd’s Orange’ and ‘Bramley’s Seedling’ will last into the New Year. Harvest squashes and pumpkins leaving a ‘T’ piece of stem on either side of the stalk. As this dries it creates a rot-proof seal on the pumpkin enabling it to keep in a cool place for months. Prune and remove fruited raspberry canes, tying the younger green shoots to wire supports for next year’s crops. Now is the time to prepare for spring Full speed ahead October is a crossroads in the gardening year. The sunshine of summer is in the rear-view mirror, but its warmth still lingers in the soil and that, combined with regular autumn rain, turbo charges newly planted roots that establish faster now than in any other time of the year. But change is ahead and October is the last opportunity for gathering in the summer harvest and laying down stores for winter as well as plant containers with ‘Miracle’ cyclamen and winterflowering violas for colour during the colder quarter of the year. And while you’ve got the trowel out, it’s also the time to plant daffodils, squills and colourful crocus for sheets of flowers in the spring. If you do just one thing… keep a roll of horticultural fleece to hand to drape over tender courgettes, French and runner beans. If they survive the first frost they could stay productive for weeks. Plant of the Month: Viola Packs of winter-flowering violas are amongst the most colourful temptations in garden centres now and will flower right through until spring. They love life in containers, especially when placed in a warm and sheltered spot. Key to success is watering especially after planting and during dry spells in spring. Just so you know… violas differ from their larger flowered cousins as they are more floriferous and have three petals pointing up and two pointing down, while pansies have only one downward facing petal. If you have a garden question send it to @tobybuckland via Twitter Yorkshire Life: October 2020 177
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