October Gardening Tips


Let’s hope October brings us some fine weather to start clearing the garden or allotment and preparing it for the colder months ahead. In fact, most of the work this month involves clearing the plot, plenty of digging, and composting debris. Rough dig over heavy ground and leave it to be broken down by the frosts.

Keep off the soil if it is wet and do not be tempted to dig if it is frozen. Remember… clocks back on October 25th!

Harvest or protect any remaining crops that are susceptible to frosts and clear away any remaining debris and place on the compost heap: the larger the quantity, the better as this helps the heap to warm up and accelerates the rotting process. It is advisable to shred or pulverize thick, woody stems such as sweetcorn, beans, and brassicas so that they decompose more quickly.

Do not put any diseased foliage on the compost heap; burn or discard it. Lift main crop potatoes before the end of the month and then store in a cool, dark place: I went to the chip shop and asked them for their used paper potato sacks.

October is perfect for dividing large oversized crowns of rhubarb. If established plants are left indefinitely, they do eventually produce less each year. Cut up and divide the crowns into good sized pieces, making sure each has signs of dormant buds and, as it is not a fussy plant, it can be planted almost anywhere, so long as the ground does not get waterlogged.

It is also the perfect time for moving or planting new fruit bushes and trees. Bare-rooted trees will benefit from the warmth still left in the soil.

Crops that can be sown this month are:

  • Early broad beans.
  • Japanese over-wintering onion sets. Although large onion sets look stronger, small or medium ones are less likely to bolt in the spring.
  • Last chance to transplant spring cabbages – be sure to net them to
    prevent pigeons eating the young leaves.
  • Plant garlic.
  • Broad beans – early varieties should

Other jobs for this month include:

  • Continue to earth up celery and leeks.
  • Protect cauliflowers by bending a leaf over the curd.
  • Finish pruning blackberries and raspberries.
  • Keep removing yellow leaves from brassicas – leaving them on the ground risks spreading grey mould.
  • If you have not already done so, earth up or stake (or both) Brussels sprouts and sprouting broccoli plants.
  • Pick the unripe tomatoes and put a few in a bag with a ripe banana – this gives off ethylene gas which speeds ripening.
  • Cure pumpkins and squashes – cut and leave them to dry out in the sun; it hardens the skins and they will keep for longer.
  • Cut back asparagus and artichoke foliage and compost.
  • Remove runner bean canes; if left in the ground they will easily rot.
    Happy gardening!

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