Anna's October Journal

October in your edible garden.

Let the growing begin. I love this time of year; the birds are singing, the days are longer and the fresh green hues of new growth are so vivid and beautiful. 

Germinating seedlings

October is a month where it’s all go on the growing front, from sowing seeds, to transplanting seedlings into bigger containers and then later this month, planting them outside into the garden. Labour Weekend is a milestone in the Kiwi garden. A weekend in which many plant their vegetable garden. It’s often been used as a date when it’s ok to plant out the tomatoes. I tend to wait a little longer to plant out mine as we can still get frosts in Wānaka this month.

Let’s gear up for an abundant growing season.  

In this issue:

  • Weeding – see our tip on how to manage October’s workload so it’s not overwhelming.
  • Feed the garden and build the compost
  • Sow the seeds
  • Protect from the birds

Weed, feed, sow

Weeding. As the days get longer and the temperatures rise, the weeds are starting to appear, at times rather quickly. Now is a good time to dedicate a little time to weeding. Hopefully, the soil will be soft from recent spring rain and the weeds will be easy to pull.

Turn your back and it can suddenly feel overwhelming with weeds everywhere. To help avoid this, I suggest you select one spot of the garden and focus solely on that. Even giving 10 to 20 minutes to weed will make a big difference. To further supress weeds, I spread mulch over the freshly weeded area. More bare soil = more weeds. Mulching can reduce the rate at which the soil heats up, but I prefer this to more weeding.

Sow the seeds. If you haven’t started already, then dedicate some time to gathering up your seeds. These maybe ones you have collected from your own garden in the autumn or ones you have carefully selected and sourced for edibles you would like to grow and eat this summer.

I am still using my glasshouse for seed raising, while I patiently wait for the soil to warm up. We had three heavy frosts in the past week, after a very mild week, so the weather is still very much fluctuating.

Some of my seedlings germinated in trays are now ready for bigger containers, so I have been transplanting them.

Transplanted seedlings If you live in a more temperate or sub-tropical area, you can be less protective about your seed-raising location.

Remember to stagger your sowing as the goal is to have a continuous supply of plants to harvest over the coming  months. Succession planting not only provides an even supply, it is a really good way to keep the weeds down by continuously planting into the gaps in your garden, underneath and beside the more established older plants.

preserving pan of mesclun

Keep feeding the garden. Depending on how much you were able to do last month, continue feeding the garden. It’s so worthwhile and sets you up for a successful growing season. With all the planting this month, you will most likely use a lot of compost, so if you make your own, make a conscious effort to keep making more. You may have to source ingredients from elsewhere, if you don’t have enough at home. Keep adding to it as there is nothing like using nutritious compost from your own garden.

What seeds to sow in October

This month I sow in seed trays only as the weather is so changeable and my soil is still cold. In your own garden, trial both tray sowing and direct sowing as your climate may well be different to mine.

Sown seed trays labelled Tray sowing ideas for October

  • Lettuce, pak choi, mesclun, mizuna, rocket
  • Snow peas, any peas
  • Kale, fennel, beets
  • Coriander, basil, parsley
  • Tomatoes, chilis and beans 
  • Runner beans

Direct sow

Spinach, beetroot and chards

Protect from the Birds. The spinach seedlings I grew from seed and planted out have all been eaten by my resident blackbirds. If you have greedy birds in the garden, I suggest covering the gardens with cloche to avoid this problem. It will also help to warm the soil. When I plant out my raised beds I will be covering them with frost cloth for 4 to 6 weeks to protect the young plants from not just the weather, but also the birds.

As you may know, I am mad keen about making my edible gardens look as gorgeous as they taste. This is also the time to be sowing bee-attracting and edible flowers. I have sown cornflowers, echinacea, lemon balm, calendula, borage and chamomile, as well as other divine flowering annuals such as my fave cosmos.

Seedings germinating

Happy growing. Enjoy every minute of this month.

Until next month.

Anna xxx