Jobs to do in October

Do the ground work

Top tips

October is a good time to think about your soil. If it's heavy clay you can dig it over so the winter frosts can break the clods down into a fine tilth. Or sow green manures on vacant areas to protect the soil over winter.

Leafy crops for improved soil

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Sowing and planting

Fruit

  • Now is a good time to plant any pot-grown fruit and place orders for bare-root stock to plant in the winter.

  • Take cuttings of currants and gooseberries and dig up rooted layers of blackberries and hybrid berries.

Vegetables

  • In mild areas you can sow overwintering broad beans in situ. Cover broad beans with fleece or cloches to provide insulation in colder areas, as well as protection from pigeons.

  • Sow overwintering varieties of peas such as 'Douce Provence' or 'Meteor', but only in mild areas.

  • Plant out spring cabbages. Remember to net them for protection from pigeons.

  • Finish planting autumn onion sets for a crop in early to mid-summer next year.

  • Plant garlic cloves.

  • In the south of England, green manures can still be sown until the middle of the month.

Pruning and training

Fruit

  • Trim over cranberry beds after you've harvested the fruit.

Vegetables

  • Cut back the dying tops of Jerusalem artichokes to ground level.

  • Cut back asparagus foliage. Take care of the spines, and give the plants some mulch afterwards.

Problems

  • Check stored apples regularly and remove rotting fruit.

  • Keep an eye on Brussels sprouts, removing yellowing leaves to prevent grey mould from becoming troublesome.

  • Remove all plant debris from the vegetable patch or allotment, to reduce the spread and the overwintering of disease and pests.

  • Place mouse controls near your stored vegetables.

  • Flea beetle can still be a problem until the end of October.

  • Control winter moth with grease bands.

General care

Fruit

  • Move citrus under frost-free glass for winter and reduce watering to keep almost dry.

  • Order your new raspberries this month, make sure they are certified as virus-free stock.

  • Take cuttings of currants and gooseberries and dig up rooted layers of blackberries and hybrid berries such as tayberries.

  • Prepare the ground for new fruit trees, nuts, vines, canes and bushes. Autumn is also a good time to mulch under fruit trees and bushes with either garden compost, woodchip or bark chippings. Chippings will help keep weeds down while garden compost will improve soil structure and fertility.
 

Vegetables

  • Dig up outdoor tomato plants and hang them upside-down in the greenhouse to allow the fruits to ripen. Any that don’t ripen can be used green in chutneys.

  • Cut back the dying tops of Jerusalem artichokes to ground level.

  • Cut back asparagus foliage. Take care of the spines, and give the plants some mulch afterwards.

  • Now is a good time to get ahead and prepare new asparagus beds for planting up in the spring.

  • When clearing old pea and bean plants, simply cut off the tops for the compost heap, and dig the roots into the soil. They return valuable nitrogen to the earth, acting as a natural fertiliser.

  • If you have heavy clay soil, October is a good time for digging over vacant areas of the vegetable plot, as the approaching cold weather may help to improve the soil structure by breaking down large clumps into crumbly particles.

Ready to harvest

Fruits
  • Apples

  • Pears

  • Medlars

  • Quinces

  • Autumn raspberries

  • Melons

Vegetables
  •     Pumpkins & squashes

  •     Runner beans

  •     Carrots

  •     Beetroot

  •     Potatoes

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