With the weather warming up nicely, there’s no better place to be than the backyard. October is a huge month in the patch. With so many varieties to plant, you’ll be struggling to get it all done. So, welcome to October, a fine time to be in any sort of garden. Remember to use all your senses in the garden. Watch for pest issues, feel for soil moisture, smell your soil, and… most importantly… taste the fruits (or vegetables) of your labours. Let’s get into it…
Weeding is a great job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding. While the kids are on school holidays, why not give them a “buck a bucket” for each bucket of weeds they remove? It gets them out in the sun, having fun and learning about nature.
It’s time to plant everyone’s favourite – tomatoes. By now your soil should be good and ready, so head to the local garden centre, pick a few varieties, and get going. This is the moment we have all be waiting for. Don’t forget their mates Basil and French Marigolds. They are great companions, and no tomato patch is complete without them.
Now is the time to plant some sunflower seeds. Find a sunny spot where you would like to see some happy sunflowers later in the year, and plant the seeds to double the depth of the seed. Cover lightly with dirt and wait… they’ll be popping their heads up in no time!
Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds. Choose a sustainable, low environmental impact mulch that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
On non gardening days head out to the shed, and sharpen, clean, oil and maintain your garden tools. It’s really rewarding and will save you money and plant problems in the long run.
Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked garden. At this time of year, try clover, pigeon pea or soybean. This will improve your soil incredibly and you’ll find it well worth the effort. Young wheat is great too, it is used to make wheat grass… an incredibly vile tasting but very beneficial health tonic. Green manure crops, including clover, barley, millet and wheat are good to go now to improve that dormant veggie patch and get ready for next season’s heavy feeding plants.
Frost free or occasional light frosts (North from about Coffs Harbour and all the way across to the west to Geraldton)
Why not give these a try: capsicum, spring onions, cucumber, pumpkins, squash, zucchini, rosella, sweet corn, eggplant and watermelon.
For some super herbs try basil (both sweet and purple), parsley, sage, pyrethrum, lemongrass, oregano, rue and marjoram. Mint is ready to go, but you might want to keep it in a nice sized pot to prevent a serious mint invasion.
Feeling fruity? There is still time to plant passionfruit, paw paw, avocados, banana, citrus, and macadamias. If your tastes are a little more exotic try putting in a guava.
Why not try some flowering plants as well. Try nasturtium, dianthus, Livingstone daisies, verbena, snapdragons, petunias, chrysanthemums, Shasta daisies, marigolds (French) or celosia. These are all great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your garden.
Cool to Cold Areas
Low temperatures for extended periods of time (all of Tasmania, most of Victoria, the southern highlands of NSW, the ACT and a tiny southern bit of SA)
Get planting these tasty treats: cabbage, celery, leeks, lettuce, silverbeet, spring onions, Brussels sprouts, capsicums, chillies, eggplants, and beetroot. For big patches, why not try a globe artichoke? Tough and tasty… what a combo.
Go crazy with climbing beans. Why not build a trellis or archway in your patch, and grow these green machines over the top. It looks awesome, doesn’t take up much space, and makes it easier to pick the beans.
In the herb patch, try some parsley, calendula, chamomile, marigolds, oregano, pyrethrum, rue, sage, rosemary, thyme, and Echinacea. Also try lemon balm and mint, but keep them in a pot, as they have a tendency to take over.
Why not try some aurora and Livingstone daisies, pansies, violas, snapdragons, verbena, marigolds, cornflowers, petunias and phlox. These guys are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your garden.
Occasional winter frosts (pretty much the rest of Australia, most of the inland, some areas of Victoria, most of SA and the southern area of WA)
Try artichoke, beetroots, cabbage, capsicum, carrots, chillies, eggplants, French beans, kohl rabi, leeks, lettuce, parsnip, potatoes, sweet corn and watermelon!
For some herbs try basil (both sweet and purple), parsley, sage, pyrethrum, lemongrass, oregano, rue and marjoram. Mint is ready to go, but you might want to keep it in a nice sized pot, just to prevent serious mint invasion!
Why not try some nasturtium, dianthus, Livingstone daisies, verbena, snapdragons, petunias, chrysanthemums, Shasta daisies, marigolds (French) and celosia. These guys are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch.
Of course, this is just a rough guide, and many of you will find your situation varies from the above listing, due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather and garden type. But the one thing that remains the same for all zones and regions is this: sustainable gardening doesn’t mean no maintenance gardening… so spend some time, pull some weeds, and enjoy your patch of paradise!
Happy October gardeners, see you next month!
Bagnall, Lyn, Easy organic gardening and moon planting, published by Scribe Publications, VIC.
McFarlane, Annette, Organic Vegetable Gardening, published by ABC Books, Sydney, NSW.
Tomato pic: Mary Trigger (SGA)
Sunflower pic: Elaine Shallue (SGA)
Pomegranate pic: Elaine Shallue (SGA)