Good gracious me, it’s suddenly got dark. Well perhaps not suddenly the night seemed to be closing in from the 1st of October and the close of day cloud encouraged it and now the clocks have changed. October was a funny month with some pleasant days and some fairly cold nights, with the frost never more than a whisker away. The gardens held up quite well and anyone with dahlias or chrysanthemums will have been very pleased as the profusion of new flower carried across much of the month. The beans took a bit of a thumping as the wind freshened in the early days of the month, but many things did well overall. It was startling to see the vigilance of the Cabbage White butterfly, which mounted an aggressive assault on any exposed greens and certainly set back the purple sprouting, but all of that is behind us. The bedding planting is as good as done, there’s a last push with bulbs and as usual some bargains around if you are quick and then there’s the veg. You will still get away with late onions and if you have a frame or a spot in a cold greenhouse then it’s fun to try spring onions. Winter lettuce is also worth a go, with Arctic King and Winter Density both being good performers across the colder months. The real deal though is the Broad Bean. That most magical of plants, will come good from seed when planted in the late autumn and will deliver a special feast in the new year. Even if you only find space in a flower pot you will find joy, but get cracking.
This is a great month for tree and shrub planting and soft fruit too will be duped by your deception. Planting on the cusp of dormancy plants don’t realise that they have moved house. Look for Raspberries (if you missed them last month), which will still be offered as bare rooted plants. it’s the time for hedging too and if there is a gap to fill, then bare root plants will also be in good supply and are cheap.
Of course this is also the month for rescue. Check your borders, seek the tender, consider the things that you want to save and move them.
And finally, if you are looking for something different, find a space for Aronia, the American Chokeberry. This plant is being flagged up as one of the new super foods. It’s a berry not unlike Blueberry, but easier. I am going to try it.