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Gardening Jobs for October with JoesGarden


October, a month where we wave goodbye to the warm, long days of summer, but welcome the striking colours of Autumn. As the weather cools and the garden starts to lose some of the summer abundance, it is easy to think our work is complete for another year. However, there is much to be done before we can relax by the living room fire place dreaming of next spring!

The weather in October varies seemingly from day to day and is without doubt changing year by year. As a result, I am continually adapting this list of jobs,

but there is no escaping the fact winter preparations are definitely under way.

Jobs for the Vegetable Garden

Sowing & Planting

- Start to plant out shallot sets to ensure the best growth for next year.

- Sow hardy varieties of broad beans in milder areas for an earlier crop next spring. Outside sowings are possible but personally I prefer to sow in seed modules in an un-heated greenhouse or polytunnel.

- Plant out garlic. Garlic needs a period of intense cold weather for the bulb to form cloves. If garlic is not exposed to this cold, the resulting garlic will be one singular bulb, equally delicious but less practical. To avoid this, now is the perfect time to plant.

- Plant out spring Cabbages. Spring cabbage seeds sown at the end of summer should be ready to be planted. A good measure if the plants are ready is five or six true leaves should have formed.

- Lettuce and leafy greens sowed in August will be ready to be planted out in the greenhouse. I love to utilise the beds formally occupied by tomatoes, aubergines and melons. Mibuna, Mibuna and Rocket will all be fine in a greenhouse or good polytunnel over winter.

- Try planting Micro greens. Micro greens are simply the small seedlings of your favourite crop. Simply sprinkle seeds such as peas, sweetcorn, beetroot or radish over a thin layer of compost. Lightly cover with more compost and water, then place on a warm windowsill. Harvest as soon as the young plants develop.

- Sow hardy pea varieties under the protection of a greenhouse or propagator to get an earlier harvest next year.


- Harvest main crop potatoes. By now the leaves on your main crop potatoes should have turned yellow. It is best to cut this foliage back and remove it. After a week dig out your potato tubers and leave to dry for a few hours before storing.

- Harvest the last of the Apples, pears and grapes.

- Harvest the last of the tomatoes. If you still have green tomatoes on the vine, try limiting watering to speed up the ripening process. If space is needed pick while still ripening and leave in a cool but bright place. Green tomatoes can also be used in cooking.

- Harvest the final few chilli’s before the first frosts start to set in. Placing the chilli’s inside of a greenhouse can extend the growing period by a few weeks.

- Pick ripe pumpkins and squash and store. To know when a pumpkin is ripe, press your finger nail against the skin and it should be hard enough to resist this pressure. Cut off with a decent amount of stalk left connected to the pumpkin and store in a cool and dry place.

- Harvest the last of the Autumn raspberries. Once the fruits have been plucked off snip back the canes they were growing on all the way back to ground level. Leave the canes from this year’s growth as that is what will bare next year’s fruits.

- Harvest the last of the beetroot. If left in the ground for too long beetroot will start to taste woody and inedible.

Pruning and Removing

- Remove any apples or pears which have been affected by brown rot. This will help reduce reinfection.

- Remove any yellow or dead leaves from your brassicas to prevent the spread of disease.

- Cut back peas and beans which have started to die back. Do not remove the roots as they will return nitrogen back into the soil enhancing it.

- Remove any larger figs which will not ripen this year, but make sure to leave behind the smaller marble sized figs. With appropriate protection these will ripen as next summer’s crop.

Other Vegetable Garden Jobs

- Attach grease bands to the trunks of fruit trees. This will help prevent the wingless moths crawling up into the top of the trees causing problems for next year.

- Start to bring inside tender herbs. Herbs such as parsley and chives can be potted up and brought inside on a windowsill for a supply of fresh herbs during colder months.

- Cloche and protect salad crops for a longer harvest.

- Brussel sprouts planted later in the year for a Christmas harvest should be of a size now where they will benefit from a stake support. This will prevent your Christmas dinner snapping off in high winds. Remember with Brussels they always taste better after a hard frost.

Trees, Shrubs & Perennials

Pruning and planting

- Prune any summer flowering shrubs such as Buddleia down to around half its current height. This will help reduce any damage caused by winter storms.

- Divide any hardy perennials. Now is the perfect time dig out any unruly clumps of perennial plants. Simply lift the root ball and divide the plant into half or possibly quarters if large enough. Add some organic matter back into the soil and replant with the correct spacing.

- Now is the time to move or replant any trees. The soil is still warm and moist enough allowing the roots time to establish before the real cold weather arrives.

- Begin to frost protect your tree ferns. This can be achieved by wrapping in frost sheets.

- Keep deadheading

- While it is a little early for bare-root plants, now is the perfect time to prepare the soil for any you many have on order.

Flowers and Bulbs

Sowing and planting

- Plant amaryllis bulbs. It is common for amaryllis to be planted after Christmas, but for an early bloom now is the time.

- Plant out winter flowering Iris. Now is the time to plant winter Iris bulbs in containers to add an early splash of colour to the February garden. If available grow in a conservatory or greenhouse for an earlier bloom. My pick is ‘Alida’ with is beautiful blue blossoms.

- Plant spring bulbs such as daffodils and crocus but hold off planting tulips.

- Sow sweet peas now for an earlier and stronger bloom for next year.

Pruning and maintenance

- Continue dead heading plants such as dahlias.

- Once the leaves start to fall it is time to lift dahlia tubers and put in storage for next year. Leave the tubers in a warm dry place for a day to dry then place in newspapers and store in a warm dry place until next spring.

- Harvest any seed heads you have left for collection. It is always best to store seeds in a paper envelope and do not forget to label to avoid confusion next spring. However, leave a few seed heads for the local birds.

Other Jobs around the garden

- Prepare leaf mould. This is garden gold in my opinion. Simply rake up fallen leaves and place in bags. Over the next year it will break down and it is perfect to sprinkle on your raised beds and boarders. I like to mow the fallen leaves before collecting to speed this process but that is optional.

- Turn compost heaps to help speed up decomposition before any animals might use it to hibernate.

- Clear out raised beds and boarders, adding the plants to the compost heap. Larger plants can be chopped into smaller pieces to speed up decomposition.

- Remove fallen leaves from the base of plants to avoid rotting and disease.

- Remove canes and supports and put them in safe storage for next year. Also try to save any rope or wire for next year too.

- Raise pots on a patio to stop water logging during the wet winter period. Simply place a rock under one side of the pot to raise the bottom off the ground.

- Now is the best time to mulch beds and boarders. The ground is still warm enough for the mulch to breakdown into the soil and get mixed together. You only need to add 2-3 cm of mulch.

- Store away any non-frost proof pots.

- Sow green manure over baron areas of soil.


- Begin to insulate your greenhouse with bubble wrap sheets. It is wise to leave openings for the windows as during the day they will often still need to be opened.

- Clean the glass with warm soapy water to ensure enough light is still reaching the plants.

- Replace any broken or damaged glass

- Check any guttering is not blocked with fallen leaves

- Invest in a minimum maximum thermometer.


- Remove any moss, dead grass and other debris from your lawn. This will allow the autumn and winter rain to drain through.

- Aerate the law especially where there has been heavy summer use. This will prevent winter water logging. Simply poke a garden fork about 8-15cm into the lawn.


- Start to fill up bird feeders across the garden as the temperature starts to drop and natural food supplies start to fall.

- Make any repairs to bird boxes, hedgehog houses and bird baths.

- Top up bird baths and make sure to keep the water defrosted as the colder weather arrives.

- Check all bonfire piles before lighting. Hedgehogs often make these their homes in the Autumn. Hedgehogs are a fantastic natural pest control so think twice before moving them on.

- Leave some fallen leaves, twigs and other debris in a pile in the garden for the local wildlife.


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