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This month in the garden - 2022

October in the Garden

October is an exciting month in the garden, with so many different things to plant. It’s time for habas, peas, mange tout and garlic, onions and leeks. We can also direct sow carrots, parsnips, beetroot, spinach, radishes, turnips, coriander and rocket. We can carry on transplanting all our little plantlets; kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and lettuce. It’s a good time to sow companion plants too, such as nasturtium, calendula, nigellas and poppies.

It can be a bit tricky finding space now if some of your summer veg is still in the ground. Some tomatoes, melons and beans will still be producing and maybe late-planted corn. The chillies, peppers and aubergines that are still going strong can be left in the ground for over wintering. Once all the fruit has been harvested and the plants have stopped flowering, cut them back to about a third. If they survive the winter, they will sprout new leaves in the spring and give you an early harvest. Pumpkins and sweet potatoes should be ready to harvest but if the weather stays warm they could keep going for another few weeks. Peanuts are also ready to harvest this month.

As the asparagus foliage dies down, cut the stalks to the ground and mulch the plants with well-rotted compost. Sea weed mulch is also beneficial as asparagus loves salt.

We are so fortunate to have a 12-month growing season, but it always a juggling act finding time and space to fit everything in to their rotations. Crop rotations give your plants the best chance to have the ideal nutrients they need for optimal growth. Generally manure is added before planting heavy feeders such as tomatoes, corn, potatoes and pumpkins. They can be followed by crops that don’t like fresh manure but are still require a fair amount of nutrients, such as kales, broccoli and cabbages. Next, plant the peas and beans that will add nitrogen to the soil. They can be followed by carrots, which need nutrition but don’t like too much manure.

As we sow our habas now we can be thinking about what crop will follow them in the spring. As they are a leguminous crop and provide nitrogen to the soil through nodules on their roots, they are a great crop to precede heavy feeders, such as tomatoes. But, the habas can be harvested all the way to May and we will probably want to have our tomatoes in the ground before then. There’s also the job of clearing the bed and getting the tomato poles in to do first, so time wise it won’t really work. One option is to plant an extra bed of habas and cut them down before they are harvested. This is also a solution to filling a bed that would otherwise be empty over the winter.

Rotating crops helps to control pests and diseases. Planting the same crop in the same spot every year can lead to a build up of certain pests as well as exhausting the soil. Experimenting with planting times can also help to beat the pests. With our slightly erratic weather, we can get lucky by taking advantage of an unseasonable cold spell. We can equally get caught out by an unexpected hot spell. This year I had red spider mite on my tomatoes in early June, due to May being hotter than usual. Spider mite is a creature that is never normally a problem until late summer. My later planted tomatoes fared much better than the early ones. My early planted pumpkins struggled with the heat whereas pumpkins planted in July (not by me, I thought it was far too late) grew into giants with monster fruits.

Rotations and planting guides are exactly that - guides. Play around with them and discover what works best for you and your specific micro-climate.

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