P and A Gardening diary

October...Autumn has arrived...

HANDS UP! Which of you has started using their log burner or have put the central heating on for the first time since the Spring?  Well, with the colder nights now here we guess there are quite a few of you… but despite the change in temperature (although during the day there have been plenty of warm, sunny days of late) there is plenty to celebrate about October and the Autumn season for gardeners.
In the orchards around Normandy, farmers are reporting a great crop of apples this year, aided perhaps by lots of sunshine and rainfall during the Spring and Summer. In our mind, there’s nothing that beats the taste of a ripe, crunchy apple that has just fallen from the tree … or if you are prepared to wait a few months, enjoying the flavour of a cool glass of cider or even a drop of Calvados….
But even if you don’t have an apple tree, there is much to look forward to this month. If you have a polytunnel in your garden there are plenty of things to sow and to plant, including peas to guarantee a Spring crop, broad beans for similarly an early crop or perhaps some tasty spinach or Swiss chard to add colour and flavour to your dinner plate next year. If you need helpful tips and advice on plants to grow in your polytunnel throughout the year, our friends at Premier Polytunnels have come up with this handy guide which you can find via our link here.
This being France of course, no vegetable and herb garden is complete without some garlic bulbs… Garlic does need a certain degree of colder weather to establish itself, which is why October is generally a good month to plant out. We love the purple varieties of garlic but there are other kinds including black and smoked garlic.   
This time of year is also perfect for planning how to safeguard those perennials that will need some frost protection over the winter. Generally the month should not see too many hard frosts occur overnight, but it is a good idea to buy what you need now and identify which plants will require covering over the next few months.
If you do have a polytunnel, a polythene cloche is ideal for ‘double glazing’ your polytunnel. This will give your plants additional protection should the winter be particularly cold (and even in many parts of France it can be as we know…), helping to keep the frost off your crops and also saving on heating costs.
Have a great October...