When Deciding On Vegetable Garden Tasks In October We Have To Remember That Summer Has gone And Winter Beckons. Our Tasks Will Depend On Our Location & Weather. Here Are My October Vegetable Tasks.
I’m in the east of Devon, and very far south. So my Vegetable Garden Tasks In October are influenced my location and by the milder weather here. Not everyone is as lucky as I am. In some parts winter is already showing itself and winter vegetables soon come into their own. But it’s not necessarily due to how far south or north we are. Some parts of Scotland are influenced by the Gulf Stream and stay mild, whilst even here in the south our higher land can get very cold in October. Snow isn’t impossible on Dartmoor and Exmoor in October and pigeons can stand on the snow drifts to eat our brassicas. But for most of us winter isn’t here yet. So we can complete our October schedule before it gets too inclement.
My Vegetable Garden Tasks In October
Seed Sowing in October
There is plenty that can be sown this month, especially crops that can be grown overwinter in tunnels and greenhouses. I’ve written a longer post on this topic previously and you can discover more How to Grow Winter Salad Leaves by following this link.
Some people recommend sowing broad beans now. They certainly romp ahead at this time of year. But they then flower far too early for most bees and the crop can be very disappointing. In my opinion it’s better to wait until November for the first sowing.
Some of the seed companies are recommending we sow basil, broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, onions and radish. In some cases I’d agree. In others I don’t. Basil will need to be kept on a warm windowsill and needs a fair bit of warmth to germinate. The brassicas should be OK in the milder parts of the country and though I’ll be sowing radish in October many people will struggle to give them enough light to do well.
Sowing Green Manures in October
I hate to see bare soil in winter. It’s far better to grow green manures than leave plots empty. Winter rye can be sown now as can phacelia and a host of other species. It’s probably too late for buckwheat though as it’ll die at the first frost.
Vegetable Planting in October
Depending where you are there are still a few things that can be planted for next year. For example I have some multi-seeded module sown Spring Onion I’m putting in. And a few lettuce and spinach.
The lettuce will be grown both in my greenhouse for harvesting over winter and outside under mesh. the mesh is to keep the pigeons off. If I’m lucky I’ll get some leaves from the outdoor lettuce, but it depends on the weather. If they grow fast and wee get a frost they’ll not survive. But if they grow slow, but steady, I can then put a cloche over them to get an early crop of leaves. The cloche is to protect them from the rain which can do more harm than the frost. I have to admit though, part of me says why bother when I have a greenhouse. If I want outdoor lettuce it is much easier to put out a song module raised plant in March and be fairly certain of a May harvest than take up the same land and trust to luck earlier.
Garlic and onion setts can be planted in October.
October Compost Tasks
In my garden I let my compost slowly mature over 12 months. I’m never in a hurry to rush it.
But for many people this is a month to add more greenery and leaves to their compost heap, to turn it so it finishes a bit quicker or to empty the bin.
Certainly it’s a good time to add compost to cleared beds. The beds can then be planted up with overwintered crops or with fresh plantings in spring.
Don’t forget you can add compost to existing crops and to ground as it is emptied from now on. If you have tall plants such as Brussels it’s a simple job to add some compost between the rows. And if you are harvesting roots. leeks and other autumn crops I suggest you think about adding compost as the land is cleared. Just remove any crop debris, leaving roots in the ground if possible. Then add an inch or two of compost to surface and sit back while nature incorporates it for you.
Don’t worry if at planting time some is left on the surface, Id’ be worried if there wasn’t any left. Just plant through it and let it work as as soil mulch.
Taking Herb Cuttings In October
Woody herbs, especially the Mediterranean “Maquis” or “Garrigue” sort, can be propagated now from cuttings. I’m thinking about thyme, rosemary etc.
Just take 2-3 inch long shoots cut cleanly just below a node, dip into rooting powder and inserted into a pot of gritty compost. Water them in, place in a sheltered spot away from sun or wind and they will root. To speed this up and ensure a better percentage take, cover the pot with a plastic bag and give a bit of gently heat, from below if possible (underfloor heating does this so well).
Once you see roots forming you can pot up into individual pots ready for planting in spring.
Divide Clumping Vegetables in October
I’m thinking especially of crops such as chives. But plants such as marjoram, and lemon balm can be split now as well.
October Fruit Jobs
Now is a good time to add grease bands to apple, pear, plum and cherry trees. The idea is to trap the female winter moth as she crawls up the trunk in search for a male. The winter moth causes some leaf and fruit damage when present but I have to confess I don’t bother to band my trees and the amount of damage I get is negligible.
Large but unripe figs can be removed now. The pea sized ones will overwinter and grow next year but the big ones get frosted and then go mouldy.
Old wood on raspberries and blackberries can be removed now if you wish. Personally I do it in the spring, but doing it now saves a future task!
Pumpkin can still be ripening in October. If they situ on wet ground they can rot, so I tend to lift them onto a tile or similar to they sit above the wet.
In late October harvest the pumpkin and Halloween carving can commence.
October Greenhouse Clearance .. Or Not
I read now is the time to clear greenhouses and prepare for spring. the idea being to clear debris and old pots and generally tidy up over the next few months.
In my case tidying up, washing glass or whatever I decide has to be done in a few hours because I need to keep cropping all winter. My greenhouse is Neve empty of remote than 2-3 hours each year. Some years it doesn’t get that much time.
October Snail Safaris
Now is a good time to reduce slug and snail numbers. A quick way is to leave a tile or twenty on the soil surface and check how many of these gastropods have congregated each day. Dispose of them as you see fit. Ducks and chicken enjoy them.
Slug pubs can also be used with good effect at this time of year. And if you prefer to drink the beer use a mix of flour, water, sugar and yeast. It attracts slugs and snails just as effectively.
Don’t Forget The Bird Boxes
It’s the time of year when I empty old nests from bird boxes. But be careful, boxes could contain bats during the day and be bird roosts art night. One of our boxes contains a roost of up to 17 wrens each night.
More Vegetable Garden Tasks In October
I’m sure you’ll be able to find more Vegetable Garden Tasks In October, but this is a good start.
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