October has a real end of season feel. Frosts are more than likely so the allotment is emptied of all tender crops. The last of the fruits of the season are harvested this month and many plotholders now disappear for the winter.
However, there is still a lot of productive work to do!
Lift any remaining carrots and beetroot and store in layers in sand or soil in a shed. Although carrots may survive in the ground they can be damaged by frost. Swedes, parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes can be left in the ground until needed and their flavour is said to be improved by frost. Other root vegetables ready for use this month are scorzonera, salsify and horseradish. Horseradish and Jerusalem artichokes, however, are thugs and if left in the ground will spread. Best, then, to lift them all over the winter period and replace just a few roots in the soil for next year. Both store well in sand. The first crops of celery will be ready but leave celeriac which is still growing.
Asparagus should be cut down this month when it turns colour, to just above ground level. Rake over the soil and clear away any weeds. A light mulch of compost can be put down but it is not necessary to manure it in our sandy soil.
The winds can be quite strong now so it’s best to dismantle structures such as bean canes and put them away for the winter. Also finish off last month’s clearing tasks to put down manure or sow a green manure crop.
Autumn sown peas have a fifty percent success rate so you may wish to try it. Use Feltham First or Meteor which are suitable varieties.
You can cut back autumn fruiting raspberries now but you may prefer to wait until the sap has completely stopped flowing. It is also time to start taking cutting of gooseberries and currants.
The manuals will probably tell you to start digging now. Does anyone dig any more? Certainly no-one on our allotments, except in the spring to get rid of stones for root vegetables. Nevertheless weeding is important, and it’s so satisfying to be able to start the new season with a clean plot!