First frosts and autumn jobs

The first Sunday in October, the likely month of your first frost. The year has turned. Time for a late tidy of the summer beds. Think about leaving any sunflowers for birds. We get an occasional ringed parakeet on its way to and from Hampstead Heath. We’ll keep back a flowerhead or two for sowing next year. It’s never too soon to plan for spring.

Leave any climbing beans on the vine as long as you can, to dry. Save some for seed. It is time to buy hardy broad beans for sowing now for spring and early summer. We tend to favour Aquadulce for overwintering.

The cold will mean the end of courgettes, aubergines and tomatoes unless they are kept under cloches. Clear the sprawling plants away. Cut any remaining squashes and pumpkins to cure, to eat or for Halloween.

Make a new compost heap, gather and collect leafmould, sow green manure and/or try to get hold of, say, a good organic cow manure to rot down over winter. We will try to put feelers out to a trusted biodynamic farm.

You can plant garlic and autumn onion sets now for next year. They do best in dry-ish conditions. Avoid any chance of them being waterlogged. It is a long wait for disappointment. As always, use your favoured specialist supplier.

Break up seed garlic heads and plant cloves pointing up, an inch or so deep and a good hand-width more apart. Harvest any late-summer onions and keep them dry. Maybe even think about plaiting them, though we’ve never had much success.

There is still time to sow winter lettuces if you have an unheated greenhouse. Finish picking apples and pears, store them if you have room. It is a good time to plant new trees. Prune blackberries and take cuttings of red- and blackcurrants. Lastly, take care of yourself and your tools.