I’ve just come inside and it’s 19C in October; we’ve had a very strange year in terms of weather.
October is a pivotal month in the gardening calendar. While it might seem like most of the growing season is behind us, there’s still a lot to be done in our UK allotments.
This is the perfect time to sow and plant various vegetables and fruits, ensuring a good harvest in the following months and even into the next year. Here, we’ll explore what to plant in October, with special emphasis on peas, salad leaves, broad beans, cauliflower, garlic, and bare-root fruit trees such as apples, blackcurrants, and gooseberries.
Peas are a wonderfully versatile crop, and while most gardeners associate them with spring sowing, October offers a great opportunity to plant certain varieties. Autumn-sown peas will give you an early harvest in spring, before your main crops come in. Opt for hardy varieties like ‘Douce Provence’ or ‘Meteor’.
Sow them in well-drained soil, and they will germinate within a few weeks. Remember to provide them with some support as they grow, and protect them from birds using netting.
2. Salad Leaves
Salad leaves are a must-have for any allotment, and October is not too late to sow them. Varieties such as winter lettuce, land cress, and mizuna can be sown now for a fresh winter supply.
These hardy greens can cope with colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours. To ensure a steady harvest, consider planting them under a cloche or in a cold frame which will protect them from the harshest frosts.
3. Broad Beans
October is the ideal time to sow broad beans for an early harvest in spring. Varieties such as ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ or ‘The Sutton’ are perfect for autumn sowing. Plant the seeds about 5cm deep in rows that are 20-25cm apart.
Broad beans are fairly low-maintenance, but it’s a good idea to stake the plants if they’re in an exposed site to prevent wind damage.
While most people sow cauliflowers in the spring, certain varieties like ‘All Year Round’ can be planted in October for a summer harvest. Cauliflowers require a fertile soil, so it’s essential to prepare the ground with plenty of compost or well-rotted manure.
Keep an eye out for pests like the cabbage white butterfly and consider netting your plants to keep them safe.
Garlic is a staple in most kitchens and, luckily, October is one of the best months to plant garlic cloves. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Break apart the garlic bulb and plant individual cloves, pointy end up, about 15cm apart and 2.5cm deep.
Over winter, they will develop strong roots, and by summer, you’ll have full bulbs ready to harvest.
Fruit: Planting Bare-root Fruit Trees
October is an excellent time to consider expanding your orchard by planting bare-root fruit trees. The soil is still warm, which encourages root growth, yet the air is cooler, reducing the risk of pests and diseases.
- Apples: The UK has a long history of apple cultivation. When selecting a variety, consider pollination groups to ensure successful fruiting. Stake young trees to provide support and protect them from winds.
- Blackcurrants: These delicious berries are a breeze to grow. Plant them in well-drained soil with good sunlight. They’re fairly tolerant of different soil types but prefer slightly acidic conditions.
- Gooseberries: Gooseberries are resilient and can thrive in a variety of soil types. However, they appreciate a sunny or semi-shaded spot. When planting, ensure that the hole is spacious enough for the roots to spread out, and water them well.
October is a month of transition in the gardening world. As the colours of autumn become more pronounced and the days grow shorter, our UK allotments are still bustling with life. By planting the right crops now, such as peas, salad leaves, broad beans, cauliflower, and garlic, you’re setting yourself up for a bountiful harvest in the coming seasons. Moreover, introducing bare-root fruit trees like apples, blackcurrants, and gooseberries can be a long-term investment, providing fruit for years to come.
Embracing the opportunities that October brings will not only give you a head start for the following year but also ensure that your allotment remains productive and vibrant throughout the winter months.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!