Rob Smith is harvesting his squash and planting garlic
And I’m also getting the garlic bulb planting under way, too
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