Jobs for October

Clocks go back, days are drawing in quick and the threat of the first frost looms. Cold biting winds, falling leaves and dreary weather are signalling the end of the gardening year, take a moment to look around you and marvel at October’s autumn colour palette. It sure is beautiful, especially when the sun shines. There are still jobs to be getting on with in the vegetable garden, so don’t put your tools away just yet!

Some jobs for October:

  • Keep picking those courgettes and beans before the first frost arrives
  • Sow green manures
  • Tidy the strawberry bed, pot up stray runners and overwinter in a greenhouse or well-lit shed
  • Make a leaf bin and start collecting fallen leaves to make leaf mould
  • Start planting garlic at the end of the month
  • Keep picking cut flowers for the house before the first frosts
  • Harvest and carve pumpkins for Halloween/Samhain celebrations
  • Autumn sow hardy broad beans (Aquadulce Claudia) and peas (Meteor) for an early crop late spring
  • Start the autumn garden tidy up, try not to be overly tidy though, leave messy areas for wildlife
  • Leave sunflower heads for birds to enjoy
  • Make or buy bug boxes or ‘hotels’ to help beneficial insects survive the winter
  • Plant spring bulbs for a splash of colour
  • Don’t forget to bring frost tender potted plants inside before the first frost arrives!

October in the Garden Smallholding

The Autumn garden tidy up is well underway this month, bean canes are coming down, leaves are being collected to make leaf mould, herbs such as mint are being potted up and brought indoors for use over winter. I like to get the tidying up done now but I keep wildlife in mind, making sure I leave enough ‘messy’ areas for hibernating creatures.

There’s a definite nip in the air although most days are still very mild for the time of year, night-time temperatures are slowly plummeting and beautiful star-filled skies suggest frosts are on the horizon – some areas may have experienced a few already. These first frosts will almost certainly finish off tender vegetables such as courgettes, keep an eye on the weather forecast and harvest anything tender as necessary, cover with fleece or cloches if you prefer. Hardy broad beans such as Aquadulce Claudia can be sown from this month onwards, garlic can be planted now but I tend to wait until next month and plant again in December, weather permitting. Digging over the soil at this time of year allows essential air back in and frost to break up compacted soil, killing off pests too.

I’ve been pulling baby carrots this month thanks to a spur of the moment late summer sowing, I watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall discussing the gorgeous flavour of baby carrots during an episode of River Cottage Veg Every Day – a great incentive to sow them late next year. I just hope the weather is kind again.

I would like to wish you all a very happy Halloween, or Samhain blessings. Enjoy your October garden.