October is a time when the nights are drawing in and the main harvest season is drawing to an end. But if you have planned and implemented successfully for year round growing and eating, there should still be plenty growing in your polytunnel, and food to harvest. There are also plenty of maintenance jobs to be getting on with this month.
October Maintenance Jobs:
Maintaining your polytunnel is something to think about all year round. It is important to consider the structure of the polytunnel itself, as well as the beds within it – the soil or growing medium, the plants… Maintenance is also about planning for the months to come, rather than just thinking about today. Here are some of the October maintenance jobs that you might be getting on with this month:
- Clean and do any necessary repairs to the outside of your greenhouse or polytunnel before winter arrives.
- Prepare your polytunnel with extra protection for cold winter nights.
- Reduce watering as days get shorter and nights get colder.
- Bring tender plants in under cover before frost threatens.
- Rake all garden leaves to use in your compost, as mulch or to make leaf mould and apply a generous layer of leaf mould or compost to your polytunnel beds as soon as these are cleared of warmer weather crops.
- Clear any leaves from your polytunnel, or from the guttering of your rainwater harvesting system.
- If you have not done so already, cut back old canes on summer fruiting raspberries.
- Divide rhubarb and other perennials to make new plants.
- Start a bean trench and begin filling it with kitchen waste where you plan to plant beans in your polytunnel next year.
- Order any trees, shrubs or perennial plants you want to plant in your polytunnel before spring arrives.
Of course you can also be harvesting and planting this month. Harvesting and planting jobs include:
- Harvesting apples and other autumn fruits.
- Harvesting squash and pumpkins ready for Halloween.
- Harvesting cabbages and other greens.
- Harvesting the last of summer crops such as tomatoes, beans, courgettes & aubergines.
- Sowing winter salad leaves, hardy brassicas and other winter greens.
- Sowing broad beans and peas for overwintering.
- Planting spring bulbs to provide flowers for early pollinators next year.
- Planting onion and garlic sets if you have not already done so.
These are just some of the jobs that you might be undertaking in your polytunnel in October. Take care of these October maintenance jobs and your polytunnel should remain a productive, thriving space over the months to come. For more information on what you should be doing this month, check out our other articles and guides. Let us know how you are getting on in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.