October Gardening Guide

If August is green, the colour of October must surely be yellow or orange, for it is this month that brings along with the falling leaves, the harvest of squash and pumpkin. It is the grinning face of the latter that we see on the last day of this month, candlelit and glowing in all the windows, daring us to trick or treat. Pumpkins may well throw down this gauntlet, for they seem to know that despite appearances, their contents may be rendered into the most delightful of edible things… sumptuous pies redolent of spice and autumn, hearty soups and stews to warm the bones and heart. Harvest your pumpkins, marrows and squashes once they are ripe. Leave them in the sun to harden and dry off before storing in a dark cool place. Beetroot, carrots and potatoes may also be stored in this way. In this month you may still be reaping the last of the spinach, endive, kohl rabi and courgettes. While preparing the ground for your garlic and onion sets, consider digging up the entire space once all the other crops have been harvested. This will make light work of next spring’s planting.  As a finishing flourish, dig in a green manure for soil enrichment and to keep winter weeds at bay. The old wife is fond of saying, ‘Hoe when you can’t see a weed and you will never see a weed’. We have no reason to doubt her. So hoe, harvest and hand out the treats this month to avoid any tricks as the old year gently winds towards its closing. Many birds will be bidding farewell this month, but do remember the remaining ones with water and a replenished bird table.

 On the motionless branches of some trees, autumn berries hung like clusters of coral beads, as in those fabled orchards where the fruits were jewels . . .

–   Charles Dickens

October’s child is born for woe,
And life’s vicissitudes must know,
But lay an opal on her breast,
And hope will lull those woes to rest

All things on earth point home in old October: sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences, hunters to 
field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.
– Thomas Wolfe 

The stillness of October gold
Went out like beauty from a face.
–   E. A. Robinson