Wondering what to do in the garden this month? Here’s our handy print-and-keep guide to your planting and storing jobs for October to December.
October to December: PLANTING
October is the end of a long and productive harvesting season, but there’s no time to be despondent’ you can start planting next year’s crops in November!
- Garlic – plant your own saved cloves, if you have any. Push the cloves in so the tips are showing, then net against birds that like to tug out the wispy tops.
- Cabbage – transplant young cabbages for eating in spring.
- Broad Beans – choose an overwintering variety and sow in a prepared bed. No need to stake. The overwintering types will get a head start before the weather warms up in spring.
- Peas – you can plant an overwinter variety such as Meteor.
- There’s nothing to plant this month – use the time to clean up the beds, dig over, and put away the bean canes ready for next year.
October to December: STORING AND FREEZING
Although you’re entering the dormant season, there’s usually plenty happening in October. October is when most counties see the first frosts, so any vegetables that aren’t hardy must be harvested before the end of the month. This means storing or preserving all the autumn crops that are still clinging on, like beetroot, rocket and pumpkins.
Jerusalem Artichoke – This high-yielding crop is ready now. Dig up all of the tubers, unless you want them to re-sprout next year! Jerusalem artichokes don’t store or freeze very well, so try to use them: Jerusalem Artichoke and Leek soup is delicious, and it will freeze perfectly.
Runner Beans – Well, October is glut season, and if you have too many runner beans, it’s time for a mammoth freezing session! Runners freeze best if you slice and blanch them first (drop into boiling water, simmer 1 minute, then drain and refresh under cold water) . Or you could make runner bean pickle with onions, sugar, vinegar and spices – a surprisingly delicious chutney to eat with cold cuts at Christmas.
Beetroot – As this reaches the end of its season, it usually becomes woody. It’s a good time to use the roots in soup (such as Borscht). If they’re young, you could plan a pickling day! Otherwise, store them in trays in the shed, packed in sand.
Squash and Pumpkin – The squash family is not frost tolerant, so it should be out before the first frost. Cut the fruits with as much of the trailing stem as possible. Then arrange them on a tray, spaced apart, and put in a sunny window, conservatory or greenhouse to finish ripening and dry out for storage. Kept dry and cool (but not cold), the squashes should keep for months.
Rocket – It’s coming to the end of its season, so harvest the whole lot and use it to make Rocket Pesto. In a food processor or pestle, grind pine nuts and garlic, then add the rocket a little at a time. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper. The run the motor and drizzle in olive oil until you have a silky green emulsion. Keep in a sterilised jar, covered with a layer of olive oil, in the fridge.
Swiss Chard – No need to put this into storage, as it will stand through winter very well. Keep picking from the outside in, whenever you want to eat it.