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This month in the garden - 2020

October in the garden

October welcomes shorter days, cooler nights and hopefully a good dose of rain.There should be a plentiful harvest from the beans that were planted in July. There may still be tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and chillies hanging on. Pumpkins are ready to harvest when the stalk turns brown but can be left on the plant longer to sweeten up. Check the undersides for signs of rot and if they are showing any cracks, harvest them and eat them. Sweet potatoes will be swelling underground now. Dig them up before the frost. Jerusalem artichokes can be harvested now too.

The brassicas that were planted last month should be showing some growth and it's not too late to get more in the ground. Coriander, rocket, spinach, mustards, chard and parsley can be direct sown, as can carrots, beetroot, parsnips, radishes, turnips and round seeded peas. Celery and celeriac, fennel, leeks, lettuces and cabbages can be sown in seed trays. October is also time to plant habas (broad beans) and garlic. These are both considered main crops and it's worth taking the time to do them well. A good garlic crop will give you a whole year's supply.

Garlic doesn't like to get too wet so pick a well drained site. Its nutritional needs will be satisfied by the residue from a well fed summer crop so plant it in a bed that was well manured in spring before crops such as tomatoes or peppers. Break up the bulbs and plant the individual cloves. Visualise a plump garlic bulb growing as you are planting and space them accordingly. Garlic does not need a lot of water or maintenance other than regular hoeing to control weeds. Its best planted on a full or waning moon and doesn't like to be mulched. You can start to harvest it in May.

Habas are frost tolerant and are a staple crop in our region. They are also a valuable green manure as they fix nitrogen in the soil. The seeds are easy to come by; they can be bought by the kilo from sacks in the local market or almacén so there's no excuse not to plant loads of them. They are a great way to fill empty beds and can either be cut before they flower and dug in to the ground as a green manure to precede spring planted crops or moved to the compost bin where they add valuable organic material and nutrition. Leave plenty to harvest for eating too and enough to grow on to seed so you can save your own seeds for planting next year. In the spring you can enjoy the traditional dish of “habas y jamón” or for vegetarians, sundried tomatoes work as a great substitute for the jamón.

If you are starting a garden for the first time, the list of tasks can seem overwhelming. There is so much to think about and so much planning to do. Just like life, gardens rarely turn out exactly as you planned them. There is a phrase in permaculture circles; analysis paralysis. Don't get too caught up in the planning stage. The best way to learn is by doing, so get started and you will learn many valuable lessons on the way. There is no so such thing as right or wrong in gardening, only what works and what doesn't work for you, in your conditions and your circumstances. Keep notes of what you planted when, what worked and what didn't and your garden will evolve to suit your needs.

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