This is the month when it feels as if the year is starting to turn. The days are noticeably shorter, the sun is lower in the sky and temperatures are dropping. Leaves are changing colour and beginning to fall and you are likely to get the first early frosts. October is the right month to sow and plant several crops for next year but the work is primarily about clearing away and composting the remains of the summer’s harvest.
Broad beans – sow seeds of early varieties, they should overwinter and give you a crop in the following June and a few weeks earlier than Spring sown.
Cabbages – last chance this year for transplanting spring cabbages. Plant them in ground that has been well firmed and cover with nets to protect from birds, especially pigeons.
Garlic – plant garlic cloves, as long as they are not in a waterlogged are they will overwinter. The longer they are in the ground, the bigger next year’s bulbs will be for harvesting.
Rhubarb -they should be entering the dormant period now, from now until March, so now is the best time to plant new sets or divide and replant old crowns.
Fruit Bushes – plant new, bare root bushes this month, allowing them time through autumn to get their roots down before start of next growing season. Currants, Gooseberries, Grapevines, Strawberries and fruit trees.
Lettuce, winter varieties and when it gets cold put a cloche on them.
Radishes, winter variety black Spanish round does well, again, in the greenhouse.
Cauliflowers, sow in the greenhouse and plant out in march.
Peas, sow a hardy variety under cloches in a warm sheltered spot.
Clear away dead plant material and compost it.
Begin winter digging.
Earth up Leeks and Brussel Sprouts.
Cut back asparagus and globe artichokes.
It’s advisable to pick apples before heavy frosts.
Take down runner/French bean supports and store over winter or they will rot in the ground. Pick and dry out seeds being saved for next year.
Remove yellow leaves from Brussel sprouts, cabbages and other brassicas.
Make a leafmould bin, or use the compost along the main path on area C. Hurry up though its nearly gone!
Prune fruit trees except for any stone fruits such as plums, peaches, cherries, etc as they can get silver leaf.
Fit grease bands to fruit trees to stop codling moths and plum moths climbing up the trunk and infecting next year’s fruit.
Harvest fruit – continue picking apples and pears/ cook or eat any that are damaged straight away, only store perfect fruit, any which are blemished, will simply rot and infect the others stored.
Get pumpkins ready for Halloween.
Lift some mint and grow on through the winter in a pot in the greenhouse, great with potatoes on Christmas day.
Leave the lawnmower on a higher setting or short grass will soon turn into mud.
Get a diary and keep a record of successes and failures. Or take photos and use as a digital diary.
Clear old vegetation – remove all dead foliage and old, dying plants. Unless there are signs of disease add it all to the compost heap.
Remove plant supports – clear away all bean poles, canes and plant supports and store
Mulch or cover beds weed suppressant membrane to cover areas this keeps weed growth at bay and allows you to sow earlier next spring
‘Cure’ pumpkins and squashes – cut and leave the crop to dry in the sun. This ‘curing’ hardens the skins, and the tougher the skins the longer they will store.
Lift carrots – lift carrots and other root vegetables where possible and store
Earth up – leeks and celery to keep the stems blanched
Cover late crops – use cloches to cover and protect any late sown crops, especially salad crops and French beans to extend their cropping season.
Cut back asparagus foliage, weed bed and apply a layer of manure or compost
Sow spring bulbs
Lift gladioli (if you do this)