October 2017 growing guide
October is when the year starts to turn, the days are noticeably shorter, the sun is lower in the sky and its colder. Leaves are falling and frost is on its way. October is the right month to sow and plant several crops for next year, but it’s mainly about clearing away and composting the summer harvest, planning and preparing for the next season.
- Broad bean seeds for next year, we have some in the shop if required.
- Lettuce, winter varieties such as valdor, winter density or all year round in the greenhouse, 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.
- There are two types, hardneck and softneck. Hardneck has a stronger flavour and is usually larger. Softneck is milder and usually the one found in supermarkets.
- Fruit trees.
- Clear away dead plant material and compost it.
- Begin winter digging.
- Lime all Brassica areas once cleared.
- Earth up Leeks and Brussel Sprouts.
- Cut back asparagus and globe artichokes.
- It’s advisable to pick apples before heavy frosts, but I leave my russets on the tree and pick and eat them on a frosty morning, they taste like ice cream.
- Take down runner/French bean supports and store over winter or they will rot in the ground. I paint mine with gloss paint and have some at home that are over 20 years old.
- 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.
- Most fruit trees would benefit from a light dressing of Bonemeal.
- Fit grease bands to fruit trees to stop codling moths and plum moths climbing up the trunk and infecting next year’s fruit.
- 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.
References: “Your garden week by week” AGL Hellyar, “Allotment month by month” Alan Buckingham, “Allotment gardening guide”, Twigs Way, “Dig on for victory” C H Middleton.
Seed list Kings seed catalogues are NOW available. Here are a few of my favourites, most of these hold an AGM too (award of garden merit).
- Cabbage Candissa (small and sweet cabbage, fits perfectly under a tunnel cloche so no need to build complicated nets.
- Beetroot Bolthardy
- Perpetual spinach
- Carrot Purple Sun
- Brussel Sprouts Maximus
- Courgettes Defender
- Cucumber Burpless Tasty
- Leeks Mussleborough
- Spring Onion White Lisbon
- Sweetcorn Swift
- Tomato Mountain Magic (blight resistant, my outdoor toms succumbed to blight, but these are still standing in October!)
- Tomato Rosella
- Tomato Sungold
- Tomato Red Alert (outside)
Don’t buy potatoes, broad beans, onions, peas or runner beans from the seed catalogue as we sell these a lot cheaper from the shop, better quality too! We also sell several good quality composts and fertilisers.
Finally, the first paragraph from a book I have just started reading, it’s called “Beautiful gardens, how to make and maintain them by Walter P Wright.
“By the time an average man is able to contemplate making himself a garden, the age for ideals has apparently departed. He has come to forty years and tasted the bitterness of seeing the illusions of his youth pass away one by one. He finds himself hard put to take a gracious and charitable view of life. His outlook is grey”.
All I can say is that I’m glad I started gardening when I was young!