Monthly Tasks – October

Monthly tasks: Elder Stubbs Charity Allotments is a member of NSALG (National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners) and their website gives a lot of useful information (www.nsalg.org.uk). This monthly task list is based predominantly from information from them.

Overview: With autumn well underway , October is usually a month of shorter days and chilly mornings. For an allotment gardener it presents a good time for lots of lovely winter digging! Getting your plot ready for next season.

Harvesting: Pumpkins and squashes should be harvested now. There is a risk if left too long into October that they may become spoiled by rat damage. Green tomatoes if any suitable ones remain can be put in a box to complete their ripening. Early leeks will be ready for lifting now because they are less hardy than the later cultivars.

Main crop potatoes must be got out of the ground before the end of the month. Harvest the last of the peas and runner bean crops for this year and keep on harvesting chard, spinach, carrots, celeriac, lettuce and oriental vegetables.

Sowing and Planting: Sow winter lettuce and a couple of short rows of winter hardy peas and broad beans towards the end of the month to provide you with an early crop next spring.

Plant out spring cabbage and overwintering types of onion and garlic. It is also a good time to plant rhubarb crowns.

General: Rough dig over heavy ground and leave it in lumps or ridges to be broken down gradually by the winter frosts and rain. It is best to keep off the soil if it is wet or frozen.

Keep an eye on your more tender plants in a greenhouse or poly tunnel. It may be necessary to give some insulation with fleece, bubble sheeting or newspaper (several layers). Wrapping the pots in bubble wrap will also help insulate their roots.

Clean and clear the plot of spent crops and take down crop support poles, taking the soil off the bottom of them before storing them somewhere cool and airy to use next year.

Stake brussels sprouts and broccoli plants to avoid them being blown over in strong winds, it is also worth dragging soil up around the base of the plants to give them extra support.

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