Get growing edibles in October

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There is still so much abundance come October, as we fill our stores with orchard fruits and flavoursome root crops. Hardier veg like winter brassicas, Swiss chard and leeks take the lead on the veg plot, reassuring us that we have plenty of fresh green produce for our winter recipes. It’s also the key planting time for a variety of edibles – and I absolutely love this activity for the promise it brings.

More October fruit and veg ideas:

October fruit and veg inspiration


Plant garlic

Starting off garlic in autumn gives superior yields, because plants develop a highly robust root system before bulking up. Only plant the largest cloves – I pot up the smaller ones as handy garlic ‘chives’. My absolute favourites are ‘Early Purple Wight’ for earliness and yield, plus ‘Lautrec Wight’ for its delicious flowering spikes, known as ‘scapes’. Choose a sunny, free-draining bed and plant cloves 7-8cm deep, using a trowel.


Move tender plants under cover

More and more of us enjoy growing exotic crops, such as lemongrass, ginger, pomegranate, lemon verbena and kaffir limes. To keep them safe through winter, now’s the time to move them somewhere frost-free. A heated greenhouse is ideal, but so is a well lit porch, conservatory – or even spare room. Keep your plants just moist and they’ll happily tick over till spring.


Harvest pumpkins

This can be a great family activity – I love traipsing back from the plot, arms heavy with our bounty – just leave a short length of stalk when harvesting to avoid damaging the skin. Of course, fruits can be carved, but I also adore many winter squashes for their sweet nutty flesh – ‘Uchiki Kuri’ and ‘Crown Prince’ are my must-grow varieties. Favoured recipes in my kitchen include squash risotto, stuffed roasted butternuts, and – as a real treat – pumpkin fondue.

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Store orchard fruits and order more

Apples and pears, along with quinces and medlars, can all leave the tree during October. A rodent-proof shed or garage makes a great storage area – simply pick the fruits and lay them, un-touching, in wooden trays or cardboard boxes. I quickly cook down any damaged ones, that won’t store, for tasty crumbles and compotes, and if you don’t have any trees on your plot yet, don’t worry – now is the perfect time to order them.