Fruit & vegetable growing guide for October
22nd October 2021
October is often when the autumn season really kicks in as the mornings become colder and crisper and the first frosts usually arrive. Despite the colder weather, it is still a hectic month in the garden as there are some fruits and vegetables that you can still sow and a fair amount to harvest too.
During this period of the year, it is also a good time to consider your soil as anyone with clay soil should dig it over so the winter frosts can break the clods down into a fine tilth or sow green manures to protect it over the winter.
It is not too late to plant fruits and vegetables and to carry out gardening jobs, so even if you suffer from mobility issues and need to use aids such as stair lifts to get around, you can still try your hand at gardening in October.
This guide takes a look at the fruits and vegetables to plant in October and what you need to harvest.
Vegetables to plant in October in the UK
There are a few things that you can sow during the month and this ranges from broad beans and peas to cabbages and garlic. Below are some of the vegetables you could plant in October.
Overwintering broad beans can be sowed from the middle of October and they will provide an early crop next year. If you decide to sow them this month then one way to protect them against particularly cold weather is to cover them with fleece or cloches as this offers them insulation and helps guard them against pigeons or mice as they particularly like broad beans.
Emma, the author of The Unconventional Gardener blog highly recommends planting broad beans in October.
She said: “Planting overwintering onion sets and sowing autumn varieties of broad beans are both good choices for beginners. They're large and easy to handle, tolerant of lousy weather and grow without needing much attention. (Although with broad beans, you do have to watch that mice do not snaffle them before they germinate!)
And if you've been using saucers of trays under plant pots to help keep them watered, now is the time to remove them. Plants will appreciate better drainage in the cold weather.”
Although many gardeners plant out their garlic in November, it is something that you can actually plant out in October. If the weather turns bad then planting it in October means it is one less job to do later in the year. If you suffer from mobility issues and need walking aids or outdoor and curved stairlifts you can plant garlic in raised beds and they will grow as normal.
Planting garlic in October is something that Dan Mowinski, who is the writer behind the popular gardening blog Urban Turnip, recommends.
“As a container gardener, I recommend planting garlic in pots outdoors in October and November. Garlic needs a cold spell so now is the time to plant it out. Just make sure your potting mix is well-draining.”
You can plant onion sets in October and generally, you will get a crop in early to mid-summer next year.
Autumn planting onions are often referred to as Japanese onion and October will be your last chance to plant these. This variety is hardy, short-daylight onions so will bulb up around a month earlier next year than normal onions, although they don’t store very well so sow a small amount, especially if it is the first time you are growing them.
Once you have planted onions in October they are a low maintenance crop as you will just need to weed them and then harvest them. Plant the onions in areas of your garden that get a good amount of sunlight and avoid sowing them in gardens that have heavy soils or get waterlogged easily.
Although September is considered to be the best time to sow spinach, you can still sow it in early autumn. You can either sow spinach directly in the ground or if you are looking to save some space then you can grow them in pots as well.
Once you’ve sown them you can expect to harvest young leaves around six weeks later, but for best results, gardeners often protect the crop by covering them with a cloche in November when the weather often drops below freezing.
Cabbages are a popular choice for many gardeners to cultivate as they are easy to grow, nutritious and tasty. They can come in all shapes, sizes and colours but the great thing about this vegetable is that it can be harvested at all times of the year.
Cabbages are perfect for all types of dishes as they can be used raw in salads and coleslaw or they can be used in soup and other warm dishes.
Although it is late in the year for them, it is your last chance to sow cabbages in October. Cabbages can be sown directly in the ground outside or in trays and left outside. If you sow them in trays you will need to transfer them to open ground later as they grow much better in the open ground than they do in containers.
Lamb's lettuce, purslane and kale
It isn’t too late to grow greens such as Lamb's lettuce, purslane and kale as even in months when it gets really cold, these vegetables and salad leaves can be grown and harvested although they may need a little protection from the elements.
This is something that Dan from the Urban Turnip believes. He said: “Hardy greens are also worth sowing for salads over winter - lamb's lettuce, purslane, kale (for picking the baby leaves), basically anything that says suitable for cold temperatures on the packet.”
By using a little protection such as fleece, plastic or glass (such as small polytunnels or cloches), it will ensure you get the best results when growing salads and greens in the autumn and winter months. Alternatively, if you have an empty greenhouse or even windowsills in your home that are brightly lit, you can fill it with many seed trays of leaves.
All the vegetables you can plant in October:
Fruit to plant in October
There are still plenty of jobs you can do in October if you are growing fruit and below is some of the fruit which you can plant in October.
October is a great time to plant pot-grown fruit such as blueberries, cherries, raspberries and strawberries.
Blueberries, which are easy to grow in pots, need acidic soil and if you are planting them in autumn you need to give them a sheltered, sunny spot and water with rainwater rather than tap water.
Another fruit that you can plant in a pot in October is cherries. Varieties of cherries vary as sweet cherries need sun, while sour varieties like Morello cherries, can tolerate more shade. Morello cherries will need to be watered well.
You can grow both summer and autumn-fruiting raspberries in pots, meaning you can enjoy your harvest for several weeks. Raspberries are a popular fruit to plant in autumn and if you are planting them during this period of the year you should look to keep them in a sheltered spot that gets a good amount of sunlight.
Strawberries are another pot-grown fruit that can be planted in October. Strawberries are perfect for pots but you need to ensure that you place them in a sunny position and that the crown is level with the surface of the compost.
Emma from The Unconventional Gardener recommends adding fruit trees to your garden: “October is an excellent time to consider adding fruit trees to your garden, as bare root trees (which are cheaper) are sold during the winter when they're dormant.”
All the fruits you can plant in October:
READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for August
Other gardening jobs to be done in October
There are still many jobs that can be done in October as you can move citrus plants under frost-free glass ahead of winter. You should also be preparing your ground for new fruit trees, nuts, vines, canes and bushes. In October you can add garden compost, woodchip or bark chippings under fruit trees to help stop weeds and improve soil fertility.
In terms of jobs to be done in October when it comes to vegetables, you can dig up outdoor tomato plants and move them to your greenhouse to ripen up. You should also look to cut back any dying tops of Jerusalem artichokes and asparagus foliage.
You can prepare beds for asparagus, can clear old pea and bean plants and if your garden has heavy clay soil then October is a great time to dig over areas of your vegetable plot that are not being used.
Dan from the Urban Turnip spoke about some other jobs gardeners should consider doing in October: “Potting mix is everything. Because there's more rain over autumn and winter, you should ensure your potting mix is well-draining. Add extra perlite, horticultural gravel, or composted bark. Growth will be slower, so don't overdo it on the feeding (maybe once every few weeks) and watch out for hungry birds and other critters (protective netting is always worthwhile).”
Crops that are ready to be harvested in October:
READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for July
This article looks at just some of the fruit and vegetables you can plant in October and the jobs you should consider doing during the month. For more tips and blogs like these then head to our news section.
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