October in the Garden

Featured in the October 2009 handbook.

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Pick the last of the remaining runner beans. Any really late and stringy ones are better composted than eaten. Dig up outdoor tomato plants and hang them upside-down in the greenhouse to allow the fruits to ripen. Any that donít ripen can be used green in chutneys.

Continue lifting carrots and beetroot, plus any remaining potatoes still underground in mild areas. Only store healthy, intact roots. Parsnips should be left in, as they taste better once frosted.

Sow overwintering broad beans in situ (mild regions only). Covering the trench with fleece or cloches will provide insulation in colder areas, as well as protection from birds

Plant out spring cabbages if you have not already done so.

Finish planting autumn onion sets for a crop in early to mid-summer next year.

October is a good time for digging over vacant areas of the vegetable plot, as the approaching cold weather may help to improve the soil structure by breaking down large clumps into crumbly particles.

After digging, any vacant ground can be covered with black polythene to prevent weeds.

- Pest & disease

Keep an eye on Brussels sprouts, removing yellowing leaves to prevent gray mould from becoming troublesome. Remove all plant debris from the vegetable patch or allotment, to reduce the spread and the overwintering of disease and pests. Refrain from composting diseased material, as the temperatures in domestic heaps may not be sufficient to kill pests and diseases. Burning the waste, burying it deeply, or placing it in the domestic rubbish are alternatives.

Be careful of mice getting near your stored vegetables.

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