At this time of year, plants are beginning to enter their winter dormancy period. If you’re buying bare-rooted (as opposed to container-grown) fruit bushes, any time in the next six months is a good time to plant them – provided your soil is not frozen or waterlogged. October is also the month for sowing and planting crops that don’t mind the winter cold: broad beans, spring cabbages, garlic, onion sets, and rhubarb.
New, bare-rooted vines can be planted this month or next, although according to traditional wisdom it’s better to wait until spring, ideally March.
Sow seeds of “early” varieties now or next month. Except in very cold regions, they should overwinter and give you a crop from around June onwards next year.
Plant overwintering fall onion sets now if you didn’t do so last month.
For an early crop next year, sow a hardy, overwintering pea variety in a warm, sheltered spot. Except in very mild regions, protect plants with cloches over the winter.
Rhubarb plants should be entering their dormant period now. It will last right through the winter to about March and is the best time to plant new sets or divide and re-plant old crowns.
Currants and gooseberries
Plant new, bare-rooted bushes this month or next. Container-grown bushes can be planted at any time of year, but fall is a good time for them to get their roots established, too.
October is your last chance for transplanting spring cabbages. Plant them in ground that has been well firmed down, and cover with nets to protect them from birds,
If you have a cold frame, you might try sowing a few seeds of early summer cauliflowers in from your own crop, but it’s much safer to buy commercially grown bulbs that you know are guaranteed disease-free.
Plant garlic cloves this month or next. For reliable cropping, garlic requires an initial period of cold (but not freezing) weather – and the longer they are in the ground, the bigger your next year’s bulbs should be. As long as they don’t get waterlogged, they will survive a cold winter.
New strawberry plants can still be planted out this month, but they may not crop generously next year if left this late.