Spring is the perfect time to get that kitchen garden going. Use this quick and easy guide to discover what to harvest plant and sow in October
+ Harvest cabbages when heads are firm and not too big or risk plants running to seed (flowering).
+ When picking broccoli make sure the florets in the centre head are still tightly closed. If they’re starting to open you’ve left it a bit long as the broccoli is about to flower. If you can’t eat all of your broccoli crop, try blanching for 3-4 minutes and freezing.
+ Never leave lettuce too long in the garden as it can turn bitter and tough very quickly.
+ Likewise with celery. Stalks become woody if left in the ground too long. If you can’t eat the whole plant, just pick off a few stalks at a time.
What to plant in October
+ Spring is here so it’s time to plant out seedlings of warm-season veges. Tomatoes are one of the most popular crops in this group. Plant these and other tall crops (eg sweetcorn) at the southern end of your vege patch so they don’t shade smaller crops. Good drainage is essential as is plenty of organic matter in the soil. Tomatoes are traditionally planted outside on Labour Day but if your garden is not frosty they can be planted now in a sheltered spot. Space seedlings of staking tomatoes 50-60cm apart.
+ Southern capsicum fans can plant seedlings out into greenhouses now. Further north they can go into the garden when temperatures are 18-25°C. Seedlings are generally ready to be planted outside when they are starting to flower. Use cloches or frost cloth to protect them if it’s still chilly at your place.
+ Sweetcorn seedlings can also be planted out into the garden if the soil is not too cold (above 16°C). Soil should be well drained with plenty of compost or other organic matter added before planting. Keep seedlings well fed for best crops. Plant in blocks to ensure good pollination – sweetcorn is pollinated by the wind, not by bees.
What to sow in October
+ Once soil temperatures regularly reach 15°C you can start sowing summer-cropping beans into the garden. In warm regions you can sow year round. Planting in containers is a good option in cooler areas or if space is limited. Sow at regular intervals through spring and summer.
+ In warmer areas you can sow cucumber seed into the garden from the end of this month to early summer. In colder areas you may need to protect seedlings with a cloche at first.
+ Soil quality is vital for carrots. They do best in light, well-drained, fertile soil. If you find sowing fine carrot seed tricky, mix it with radish seed to help thin it out. The radishes mature faster, leaving space for the carrots to develop.
+ Lettuce does better in cooler temperatures so you’ll need to sow seed now if you want a crop before summer in warmer areas. Cos is one of the most heat-tolerant lettuce types.
+ Courgettes are easy to grow from seed but don’t go overboard as the plants are very productive. Sow in individual pots and keep in a warm, sunny position. Plant out as soil warms, giving them plenty of space, a sunny position and fertile, well-drained soil.
Words by: Carol Bucknell. Images via: Getty Images.