Gardening in October
October is the month of cosy nights by the fire, carving pumpkins and watching the red and yellow leaves fall off the trees. Having said that, there is still plenty to harvest and do in the garden, especially if you have one of our Sprout mini greenhouses. With a Sprout, the growing season is definitely not drawing to a close and by adjusting the light, watering and temperature controls as needed we can keep on growing food all year around!
If you haven’t already….
- Stake your Brussel Sprouts as they grow tall and become top heavy.
- Lift squashes and pumpkins off the ground by placing them on a stone, brick, paving slab or tray. This will keep the base of the fruit dry and increase the airflow to stop rotting and aid ripening of the fruit before they are ready to be harvested.
What to do now….
- Clear your brassica beds as you harvest and eat your delicious produce. Add the green waste to your compost heap. Chop up the plants to smaller pieces with a spade to speed up the composting process.
- Protect your brassica beds with netting if you have a problem with pigeons. Take extra care of any newly planted as they’re the most at risk.
- Lift your carrots this month as they easily get damaged by a late attack of root fly, slugs or by a hard frost. It is especially important to lift them if the drainage is not good as they can start to rot in a waterlogged bed. The trick to easily get the carrots out of the ground is to push the carrot downwards before pulling upwards! Brush off the soil or wash them with the garden hose. Check for any damage and eat those first. The undamaged ones can be stored in a box of sand or old potting compost in a cold shed or garage. Make sure to rodent proof it.
- Harvest your maincrop potatoes this month before the soil gets too wet and cold. Slugs can also be a problem if you leave them in the ground too long. Lift the potatoes with a fork taking care not to damage the tubers. Let them dry for a few hours so that you can brush off the soil. Check for any damaged ones and eat those first and store the rest in a breathable bag in a cool dark place.
- Harvest your crops regularly when they are at their best as they can quickly go bad with heavy rain, strong winds and an early frost, unless they’re protected in your Sprout mini greenhouse of course!
- Pick apples when they let go of the tree as soon as you give them a light twist. Check often as the exact time of ripening can vary a lot between locations, varieties and even on the north or south side of the tree.
- Prepare beds before planting any autumn and winter crops by weeding and feeding the soil with your choice of fertiliser. Mulching with compost, grass clippings or well rotted manure is a great choice as it not only feeds the soil but adds organic matter as well. It will also stop the soil from drying out, stop the weeds growing and help against soil erosion.
- Sow your broad beans this month to produce strong plants for overwintering and an earlier harvest next year. Great varieties for overwintering are Aquadulche Claudia and The Sutton which are very hardy. Sow the seeds directly into the ground or start them off in trays and plant out when they are a few inches tall. Keep in mind that mice love digging up the seeds so they may need to be protected. Your Sprout mini greenhouse is perfect for starting your broad beans as it will not only keep them protected from rodents but also ensure quick and even germination.
- Plant out your potted strawberry runners. Make sure to use a new area every 3-4 years to avoid diseases building up.
- Harvest your pumpkins and winter squashes when they are fully ripe. The colour should be rich and the skin hard. Protect them from any frost before harvesting. If your pumpkins and squashes are not fully ripe when harvesting they need to be cured in a warm bright place for a few weeks. A 4-season mini greenhouse can help you with this!
- As soon as you have finished harvesting a bed or area make sure to weed and add a layer of mulch. This will stop the weeds taking over and also feed the soil and its inhabitants throughout the winter. In spring you can lift off any cover if necessary or just move the cover slightly to plant or sow. This will save you lots of time in spring when gardening is at its busiest. Compost, well rotted manure, leaves, grass clippings, weeds that have not gone to seed, hay, straw or hay silage can all be used.
- Plant overwintering onion sets before the soil gets too cold and wet. The tip of the onion should be visible and space them 10-15cm apart.
- Keep working on reducing slug habitats in your garden. It will make a huge difference to next years’ slug population. Tidy up, lift up stones, pieces of wood and keep grass short. If you move pots from outside into your Sprout make sure to check underneath and remove any slugs or eggs you find.
- Pick your outdoor tomatoes before any blight sets in. Pick the green ones and let them ripen indoors or in your heated Sprout.
- Try to force your last greenhouse tomatoes to ripen by keeping it warm and dry. The roots should be just moist, remove all the foliage and close the doors in the afternoon to keep the warmth in.
- As the asparagus foliage turns yellow, cut it down to 2.5cm above the ground.
Sometimes we only have five or ten minutes to spare but it is remarkable how much you can get done in those minutes! Also, imagine you did one of these jobs every day of the year. 365 small jobs creates miracles!
- Sow lettuce! Keep sowing lettuce little and often to ensure a continuous supply of fresh salads through autumn and winter. If you have a Sprout mini greenhouse any variety will do for the winter but if you don’t, make sure you sow winter varieties.
- Protect your outdoor salad with a horticultural fleece. It will protect your crop from strong wind, frost and hungry animals like pigeons.
- Collect old plant labels and clean them in hot soapy water. Recycling them for next year is great for the planet and your wallet!
- Tidy up your brassicas by removing the lower leaves when they start to look old and tired. It helps in preventing both slugs and disease.
- Check your plants and remove any foliage that is yellow, dead or looking diseased to prevent moulds and fungal diseases from spreading.
- Watch out for hungry animals like pigeons, squirrels and deers. Protect your crops with suitable netting or move what you can under cover.
- Go on a slug hunt! We are not giving up now because it is the overwintering slugs that will cause havoc next year. Look under things like pots, pieces of wood, clumps of soil and stones. Dispose of them and any eggs you find.
What should I be sowing this month?
This month we can sow broad beans, spinach, lettuce, salad leaves, radish, onions and parsley.
What should I plant this month?
October is a great month to plant garlic, overwintering onions, spring cabbage, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, and also strawberries from runners or new plants.
What should I harvest this month?
October can be a fantastic harvesting month offering runner beans, dwarf beans, main crop potatoes, squash, pumpkins, calabrese, kohlrabi, lettuce, radish, spring onions, leeks, chard, carrots, beetroot, courgette, turnips, spinach, all sorts of herbs, autumn raspberries, apples, pears and possibly still tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and cape gooseberries.
Gardening with children
Gardening with children is wonderful and chaotic! It is the very best place for them to learn about and connect with nature, wildlife, biodiversity, sustainability and growing food. It is important to let them have a go and fail but it is also important to give them an opportunity to succeed! Here are some ideas that you can do with your children this month!
- This month is all about harvesting pumpkins! Let your children harvest any pumpkins you have grown together and explain that we do not lift them by holding the stalk as it can damage the pumpkin. Instead lift from underneath and see who can carry it! If you haven’t grown any yourself maybe you could attend a PYO farm!
- Save some Halloween pumpkin seeds! Try roasting some in the oven with some olive oil and salt and dry the rest and give to wild birds!