Consider this your spring gardening guide! Here’s what to harvest, plant and sow in the garden during the month of October
What to harvest in the garden in October
– Pick leafy greens such as rocket, spinach and lettuce as often as you can to encourage more leaves. Pinch out any flower shoots to stop them turning to seed as the weather warms. Always allow some leaves to remain on the plants to ensure they’ll keep growing.
– New baby potatoes will be ready to harvest in some warmer areas, if plants have finished flowering. Wait until leaves die down as well if you want larger tubers. By loosening soil around the plant, you can pull out the big potatoes and leave the smaller ones on the plant in the ground to grow bigger.
– Harvest cabbages when heads are firm. Cut close to base and leave stump in ground as it may produce some small cabbages.
– When picking green peas don’t wait until pods are too fat as the peas inside might be big but they won’t be tasty. Better to harvest when they’re young and sweet.
What to sow in the garden in October
– With Labour Day – the traditional start of the main vegetable-growing season – coming up this month, vege gardeners will be sowing up a storm with their summer crops. Runner and dwarf (French) beans can be sown or planted directly into the ground if the soil is not too chilly in your area. Use cloches in colder regions. Well-drained soil is a must as is regular watering and shelter from wind that can wreak havoc with flowers and thus reduce the size of crops.
– Courgettes, capsicum, chilli, cucumber and other heat-loving veges usually do best when sown in trays or individual pots and kept in a greenhouse, tunnel house or on a warm window sill, for planting out when temperatures are consistently above 18°C. Remember that telegraph cucumbers need more warmth than other varieties.
– Likewise with tomatoes. Sow into small pots and place with your courgettes and chillies in a sunny, sheltered spot. Keep transplanting into larger pots as seedling roots develop. When the first flowers appear your precious tomatoes will be ready to face the big wide world out in the garden.
– Carrots can be sown in cooler temperatures but won’t germinate well if soil is too cold. For best results sow carrot seed when soil temperature is above 10°C. Take out stones, clumps and other material that will distort the shape of carrots and dust soil with potash to ensure sweet crops.
– Some beetroot varieties, such as ‘Crosby’s Egyptian flat’ (kingsseeds.co.nz), will grow better in spring and summer, while others are hardier and will even tolerate light frosts. Sow seeds at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seeds when soil temperatures are 7-25°C. Beetroot seedlings need to be thinned as most seeds come in a cluster. The ideal spacing is 20-30cm apart.
– If you’re a fan of Asian greens, like I am, you’ll want plenty of bok choy in the garden for stir-fries. Sow seed directly into garden every three weeks for continuous crops. Avoid hotter parts of the garden at this time of year as plants can bolt (flower and turn to seed rather than produce new leaves) in warm weather. Always select a variety suited to the season.
What to plant in the garden in October
– No fan of Asian cooking can do without lemongrass in the garden. It also makes a delicious tea. Plant in a warm, sheltered position and give plants plenty of moisture. If your friends have a plant, ask for a piece from their clump with roots attached and simply pop into the garden.
– Non-hearting lettuces, such as buttercrunch and cos, do better in the warmer months than hearting types like iceberg. They’re also faster growing.
– When planting dwarf fruit trees in pots it pays to invest in a quality potting mix and also to add water-retaining crystals to the mix before planting.
– Plant marjoram in a warm, sheltered, sunny part of the garden into very well-drained soil. Marjoram can be easily grown from cuttings and root divisions.
Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Michael Wee/bauersyndication.com.au