Garden Jobs in October

allotment in October

This post is a part of a series about the things I usually do/sow/harvest in my garden in a given month. I post at the beginning of each month and at the end of each month I check in to let you know how the month went in our garden(s). I am gardening in the eastern part of the Netherlands, in a cool temperate climate, roughly zone 7. Your sowing times might be somewhat different depending on your local climate.

October to do list:
Sow:
Broad beans for overwintering

Plant:
Garlic

Harvest:
Last tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, tomatillos, sweet corn en peppers; winter squash, beans, chard, beets, carrots, kale, leeks, fennel, rocket, kohlrabi, cauliflower, endive, radicchio, late sown lettuce

Jobs:
Harvest last squashes before the first frost and cure them
Earth up leeks
Protect endive, spinach, radicchio by covering them with horticultural fleece or straw
Mulch empty beds
Mulch weedy spots with cardboard to kill weeds
Harvest and store late apples

Every year I try to grow more garlic and still we use it up quickly. Although some varieties can be planted in spring, fall planted garlic usually does better in our climate, since the plants need a long period (30 to 60 days) of cold weather (under 10 degrees Celsius) to do well. Sometimes I have planted garlic as late as beginning of December and still got a decent harvest, but that’s just because I failed to do it in earlier.

planting garlic

I will try to do better this year! For a few years, I kept a part of our garlic harvest to plant again in fall, hoping that we would eventually get a strain adapted to our local climate. Unfortunately, the quality of the bulbs deteriorated – the bulbs became loose and did not store well – not a huge problem since we eat a lot of garlic, but still I decided to buy new stock this year.

Some years I also sow broad beans to overwinter. The young plants are quite hardy, but the large seeds are prone to rotting and I usually loose almost half of them. They will do better if protected with fleece and can give us an extra early harvest in spring. Some cultivars are especially suited to fall sowing, e.g. “Aquadulce”.

As some garden beds become vacant, I spread a layer of compost over them, adding a bit of dolomite to correct the low pH of our sandy soil. It is worthwhile to cover any bare soil with a layer of mulch to prevent the growth of weeds in the empty beds and protect its structure. You can use any available organic materials, such as leaves or straw or grass clippings. When you’re harvesting vegetables, any parts of the plants that you will not eat can also be used as mulch.

parsley, fennel and chicory

If there are areas in your garden that have gotten out of control and are overgrown with weeds, you can apply cardboard mulch to clear them, without having to resort to digging and painstakingly removing the roots of weeds. Just remember that the mulch needs to stay in place for quite a bit to be effective.

october harvest
Happy fall gardening!

6 comments for “Garden Jobs in October

  1. 22/10/2014 at 18:51

    Volgend jaar ga ik net als jij in bakken tuinieren, met paden van houtsnippers ertussen. Het is dit jaar erg onoverzichtelijk geworden 🙂 Iedere maand koop ik nu douglashout voor 1 bak. En heb ik in het voorjaar genoeg voor 6 bakken.

    • vera@gtc
      24/10/2014 at 11:18

      Hallo Berta, ik kan de verhoogde bakken zeker aanbevelen, ze maken het tuinieren veel efficiënter. De investering in het begin is vrij groot, maar Douglas hout gaat redelijk lang mee. Ik ben benieuwd naar foto’s van je tuin volgend jaar!

  2. 08/10/2014 at 16:56

    I love that you plant for the Fall season. By this time of year I’m usually so exhausted with the garden that I’m praying for frost to finish it off. I do plant garlic, and like you I renewed my old stock this year, the seed bulbs only shrank every year. I purchased a book last winter called Four Season Harvest and my ultimate goal is to try and overwinter specific crops that we love. Lettuces are a special goal. Grocery store clam shells are just awful!

    Thanks for some inspiration/motivation!

    Caroline

    • vera@gtc
      08/10/2014 at 17:09

      Thank you, Caroline! I completely understand about being tired at the end of the season. I do not struggle so much with gardening itself, but with related chores like keeping records (and ordering bulbs on time!). I have all books by Eliot Coleman (and also his wife Barbara Damrosch), they were my original inspiration to try to extend the seasons! Lettuce is less hardy than some other salad greens, so I usually opt for other crops, but I have succesfully overwintered some “Winter Density” lettuces in our cold frame in the past. If you have a glasshouse, it is definitely possible!

      • 08/10/2014 at 17:43

        Unfortunately I don’t have a glass house 🙁 On the wish list that’s for sure! I’m trying mache this year and I’m hopeful it will slightly extend my season. I’ve read it can freeze solid and it’s just fine when it thaws. Amazing! And thanks for the feedback. It’s nice to connect with other gardeners.

        Caroline

        • vera@gtc
          09/10/2014 at 17:33

          Mache (corn salad) is indeed very hardy and tasty, too! Winter purslane is also a good bet and chervil also does well here. I wrote a bit more about some of the hardy greens in this post, if you’re interested: http://www.growntocook.com/?p=3331
          If you can build a simple cold frame, it will extend the possibilities without costing a fortune. I hope to have a glass house one day too, but for now we make do with what we have 🙂

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