Jobs for the Month

October 2020

October is the month when most crops have finished cropping – any last vegetables and fruit should be picked or dug up.
Some seeds can be sown to over-winter to get a late spring/early summer cropping.

Vegetables

  • Harvest any remaining maincrop potatoes.  Store in a cool, dry place in jute, hessian or paper bags in a dark frost-free place. Check for blight damage occasionally and discard any rotten tubers.
  • Continue harvesting any remaining runner beans
  • Continue to pick any remaining radish, carrot and beetroot when they reach required size. Ensure carrots are protected with insect mesh as carrot flies are most damaging in late summer and autumn.
  • Pick autumn squashes and set to “cure” in a warm, dry place for 10-14 days, then in a cool, light place at around 50-55F until ready to eat. Many squash can be stored for up to 6 months.
  • Plant overwintering onion sets and garlic. Soil must be well drained. Onion sets should just peep above the surface. If the ph is lower than 7 add a little calcified seaweed. Plant garlic 1.5- 2”deep, spaced 7” apart. Both benefit from onion fertilizer.
  • Plant over wintering peas and broad beans (Aquadulce) for harvesting in late May, early June.
  • Winter salads and oriental greens can be sown in the green house or cold frame.
  • Check that the bird netting on brassicas is secure in preparation for more wintry weather.
  • Collect seeds of plants that have not been harvested. Peas and beans save well. Collect directly from the plant on a dry day to avoid fungal rot and put straight into paper bags.
  • Plant out spring cabbage 6” apart.

Fruit

  • Continue to harvest apples and pears as they ripen. Store in a cool, well-ventilated place.  Any damaged fruit will not store well and should be eaten now or can be cleaned sliced and frozen.
  • Plant fruit trees at the end of the month while the soil is still warm.
  • Apply grease bands to fruit trees to deter winter moth.
  • Order bare-rooted fruit trees to be delivered November onwards.
  • Take hardwood cuttings, 1ft long, from gooseberries and currants. Plant in pots of compost.
  • Lift and divide rhubarb plants that have been in situ for more than 5 years or are less productive. Keep and replant the newer outside growth and discard the centre.
  • Clear away strawberry foliage to prevent build-up of pests and diseases.

Flowers

  • Plant daffodils, alliums and other spring bulbs for early spring flowering. (Hold off planting tulips until November.)
  • Sow sweet peas in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse for early summer flowering. Sow in root trainers or 3” pots.
  • Sow hardy annuals such as calendula officianalis in shallow drills for late spring flowering next year.
  • Continue to dead head flowers to encourage further blooms

General

  • Continue to clear the ground of this summer’s growth, weeding as you go, especially perennial weeds (e.g. bindweed, couch grass).
  • Turn the compost heap to speed its decomposition.
  • Compost fallen leaves in hessian bags. Compost pea and bean foliage,but leave the roots in the ground as they contain nitrogen.
  • Spread manure to areas planned for next year’s brassicas and lime in the spring if the ph level is below 7.
  • Sow green manures such as field beans, vetches or rye grass to be dug in next February.

Gardening for wildlife

  • Leave decorative perennial seed heads as food and habitats for wildlife
  • Build an insect hotel or install a log pile.

For general tips on wildlife gardening follow this link

nnel sow herbs, salad leaves such as pea shoots, beetroot and chard for winter leaves

  • Cut herbs for drying and use throughout the winter.
  • Store bean sticks and pea sticks in shed or under cover ready for next year

Fruit

  • Continue to harvest apples and pears as they ripen. Store in a cool, well-ventilated place.  Any damaged fruit will not store well and should be eaten now or can be cleaned sliced and frozen.
  • Continue picking autumn raspberries and blackberries.
  • Pot up strawberry runners to make new plants for next summer or plant out new strawberries.
  • Cut out the fruited canes of summer raspberries, blackberries, loganberries and tayberries. Leave the new green canes, as these will crop next year.
  • Summer prune trained fruit trees such as fans, espaliers and cordons.
  • Prune blackcurrants by taking out some branches near to ground level
  • Plant fruit trees at the end of the month while the soil is still warm.
  • Apply grease bands to fruit trees at the end of the month to deter winter moth.

Flowers

  • Sow hardy annuals such as calendula officianalis in shallow drills for late spring flowering next year.
  • Plant daffodil bulbs for early spring flowering.
  • Continue to dead head flowers to encourage further blooms

General

  • Empty the compost bin by bagging up compost from the bottom of the bin or heap.  Store it ready for use next spring and start a new mix.
  • Deep-dig out perennial weeds such as bindweed.  Keep weeding to prevent weeds seeding.
  • Soil can be dug obver as crops are cleared.
  • Begin to add well-rotted manure to bare areas.
  • Clean the polytunnel to reduce overwintering pests.

Gardening for wildlife

  • Leave some wild patches (e.g. nettles, rotting branches) for insects, butterflies and other wildlife to hide and lay eggs in.

For general tips on wildlife gardening follow this link