Rob Smith is har­vest­ing his squash and plant­ing gar­lic

And I’m also get­ting the gar­lic bulb plant­ing un­der way, too

Garden News (UK) - - Advertisement - ROB SMITH

It’s al­ways a busy month in the veg gar­den in Oc­to­ber, with har­vest­ing still in full swing and the need to start tidy­ing the gar­den in prepa­ra­tion for win­ter. My run­ner beans have just about given up the ghost so I’ve cut the plants off at ground level; by do­ing this it al­lows any ni­tro­gen the plants took from the at­mos­phere to stay in the soil and help feed the next crop planted in that bed – just re­mem­ber to chop the roots up and dig them in with a sharp spade.

I’m also har­vest­ing my ‘Honey Boat’ squash now that the dark green lines have formed and they’ve ‘cured’ in the sun, mean­ing they’re hard skinned and ready to cut and store. When you har­vest any squash, make sure to cut the vine each side of the stalk that at­tached the fruit, and this should leave you with a T-shaped han­dle, which helps pre­vent the stem rot­ting as quickly, and ul­ti­mately gives your squash a longer shelf life. I’ll be burn­ing the plant fo­liage as they still show some signs of white pow­dery mildew (even after us­ing a mouth­wash spray), and com­post­ing will just spread the prob­lem next year, so it’s best to burn or bin.

I’m also plant­ing gar­lic ‘Red Duke’ and ‘Ele­phant’; the former is a very strong and pun­gent va­ri­ety, while the lat­ter is a very mild (and big) type that’s re­lated to leeks. Due to its size, I plant ele­phant gar­lic 25-30cm (10in-1ft) apart, as this al­lows me to get a hoe in be­tween the rows to weed. Gar­lic likes the soil to be free-drain­ing, so ad­ding grit can help if you’re on heavy clay. Al­ter­na­tively, you can start cloves off in 10cm (4in) pots (15cm/6in for ele­phant gar­lic) in a cold frame and plant out in spring. This will help stop any rot­ting in wa­ter­logged soil. You’ll no­tice tra­di­tional-sized gar­lic will emerge a few weeks be­fore the ele­phant gar­lic – don’t worry, this is nor­mal, the bulbs seem to put down more roots be­fore the top growth starts. Keep the plants weed free and they’ll grow with vigour come spring.

You can tell ‘Honey Boat’ squash has been cured by the sun by the green lines ap­pear­ing

Bulbs of ele­phant gar­lic take a li le longer than nor­mal gar­lic to grow

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