GARDENING: Getting your garden ready for winter

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OCTOBER’S often the time when people lose interest in the garden – but it’s one of the busiest months, and a race against the first frosts.

The number one priority is making sure plants you need to overwinter, such as geraniums, dahlia tubers, and anything tender, are in a clean environment.

Not only must it be frost-free, but pest-free.

Cleaning the greenhouse/conservatory/porch is one of my least favourite jobs, but a necessary evil.

My plants suffered last winter/spring from aphids overwintering in cracks and crevices, as I couldn’t get to out-of-the-way places.

To make matters worse, the rampant golden hop climbed 15ft up the drainpipe and into the far end while I was on holiday, depositing a load of greenfly, slugs and snails to wreak havoc.

Desperate times called for desperate measures.

Everything was taken outside (down a flight of stairs) once the tomatoes finished and the whole structure was hosed down, plus the shelving.

When dry, I started to redecorate, replacing the terracotta walls with white, for better light intensity at seed-sowing time. Once the paint’s dry, every surface will be given a thorough clean with Citrox.

It’s a powerful organic citrus extract disinfectant for cleaning greenhouses, pots, staging, tools, seed trays, bird feeders and bird baths, but doesn’t harm plants and it’s effective against bacterial and fungal diseases.

Glass is best done with an anti-bacterial washing-up liquid - it doesn’t streak.

The last job will make the neighbours stare – using a power washer from my landing window to blast large amounts of lichen from the roof outside to increase light intensity. One last word – check the plants that you’re overwintering carefully BEFORE bringing them in – you don’t want them to be harbouring pests.

Better to cut things like geraniums back outside first – and check pot rims and bases for hidden slugs and snails.