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The fruit and vegetable garden

October 2011


veggiesThis is the month when the first frosts will kill off any tender annual plants such as courgette and marrow. Any remaining fruits on them should be picked before the frosts and stored in a cool dark place, where they should last until the end of December. Generally as the days get shorter plants that over winter will slow their growth and eventually will become dormant. All that is needed is to guard against pest damage by netting over where possible.

The end of October is a good time to plant garlic. Split the bulbs into individual cloves and plant so that only the tip is showing. Although they are associated with warm climes they do need the cold spell to initiate growth in spring. They should be ready to harvest next July.

Perennial plants such as asparagus and globe artichokes will start to lose their foliage as they become dormant. Clear away the leaves and dress around the plants with a thick mulch of compost or rotted manure to protect the crowns over winter. The same goes for rhubarb in the fruit garden.

Previously in The Fruit & Vegetable Garden...

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

Early in the month any harvested onions should now be dry enough to store. Check the bulbs for firmness and any that are damaged or slightly soft should not be stored, but used up first. Tie the onions in bunches and hang in a cool, dry place where they should last until the spring.

It is worth checking the soil ph at this time of year. Most crops benefit from neutral to slightly alkaline, particularly brassicas. If the soil is too” sweet” (acid) then now is the time to add lime by dusting the surface.

If you don`t already do so, it is worth noting where crops have been grown this year and making a 3 year crop rotation plan. To do this you will ideally need three areas for the different types of crops;

1. Brassicas (cabbage, turnip, swede, sprouts etc.)
2. Roots (carrot, parsnip, potato, beetroot etc.)
3. Others (sweetcorn, pea, bean, onion etc.)

To plant the same crop year after year allows pests and diseases to build up, but with crop rotation the crop is only in the same place every fourth year. The other advantage is that peas and beans lock nitrogen into the soil with their roots, which then benefits other crops.

Check the compost bins and any that is ready can now be spread over the earth to beef up fertility for the spring.



BlackberriesComplete the picking of fruit and store any fruit in sound condition. Do not mix late apples in the store with early cults, and always keep apples and pears separate.

  • Remove broken branches from stone fruits and protect the wounds.
  • Prune blackcurrants if not already done, and take cuttings from healthy plants.
  • Prune gooseberries, red and white currants at leaf fall, but if bird damage is likely then leave the plants until Spring.
  • Finish pruning blackberries and hybrid berries.
  • Complete the planting of strawberries by mid October, tidy up the beds and remove leaves from perpetual strawberries.
  • Order new fruit trees, prepare the ground for planting and begin planting immediately after leaf fall.
  • Fix greasebands around apple, pear, plum and cherry tree trunks to trap female winter moths, and apply a final spray at leaf fall to stone fruits to protect against bacterial canker.

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