Ten Tips for the Edible Garden in October
Updated: Oct 23, 2020
Autumn is a magical season, also in the edible urban garden. Pumpkin harvest, blueberry leaves turning bright red, the sunflowers are bursting with seeds and everything becomes slower and calmer. But what does an urban gardener do in order to make the most of the vegetable garden over the autumn? Here are my ten tips:
1) Make it beautiful: Gently clean the garden, rearrange pots, and make sure to be aware of which plants are annual and will not survive winter, and which are perennial. In September, I sowed many kinds of baby salad leaves in terracotta pots, and planted cyclamens in other terracotta pots as well. By arranging the pots and tidying up, you can make the garden or balcony, beautiful and fresh looking, even in October.
2) You can still sow: Winter radishes, horse radish, rucola, bok choy, many types of mustard leaves, and winter spinach.
3) Plant garlic: October is a good time to plant garlic, take advantage of the space that is freed up from lifting the summer crops.
4) Pepper plants: Peppers and chilies are still producing, but it’s getting too cold for them, you can pot them and take them inside the house. Place on a windowsill with lots of light, to make sure the plant will keep on producing more peppers over the winter.
5) Pumpkins: Pumpkins can be finally harvested and the plant can be pulled out. If the plants are still in good shape there’s no need to hurry. Keep healthy plants so you can harvest the edible flowers. It’s best to store your pumpkins in a dry place, many pumpkins will taste the best after curating them for a month after harvest, since they become denser and have better firm texture.
6) Tomatoes: It’s worth to harvest some of the green tomatoes and let them ripen inside the house. At this point, especially in cold climates, they have better chances to become nice and edible inside. Too much rain or wind will only damage unprotected plants. When the nights get cold, harvest all the remining tomatoes, transfer indoors and gradually pull out the plants and add to the compost bin.
7) Sunflowers: Leave big tall sunflower plants in place for the winter as a 100% natural and free bird feeder. Make sure to secure big tall plants from collapsing in the wind.
8) Kales, cabbage and other brassicas: Keep checking these plants once in a while for caterpillars, soon it will be too cold for the butterflies, but it’s a shame to lose a plant now because of too many hungry caterpillars. Wait until the first frost to harvest kale plants, the frost improves and concentrates their flavour.
9) Flower bulbs: If you have limited space like I do, now is a good time to rearrange the garden so there will be enough space to plant flower bulbs, in pots, containers or in the ground. If you are planting in the veggie beds, make an extra effort to find organic bulbs.
10) Save your seeds: Eating your pumpkins? Wash and dry the seeds, store in a dry cool place, in a paper envelop. Nasturtiums are very prolific with seeds even in October, make sure to harvest their seeds and save for next year. Same goes for sunflowers, leave most for the birds, but keep some to use next year.
And one extra tip... take some moments to enjoy your plants before winter comes, reflect on what went well, what you liked the most about last season and what you would like to do for the next one. Enjoy!