The name October comes from the Latin word for eight, “octo”. October was the eighth month in the Roman calendar. That all changed in the sixteenth century when the Gregorian calendar was adopted. Now, October is the tenth month.
The whole reason for changing the calendar came with the notion of bringing the calendar into synch with the seasons of the year. Under the Roman calendar, the seasons from one year to the next weren’t always in synch. In other words, spring didn’t always arrive in March in the northern hemisphere and fall didn’t always arrive in October.
Well, these days October north of the equator means autumn. October is the month to finish the harvest and prepare for the first frost of autumn. October is the month when the sunshine grows hazy and the air grows tangy. The leaves change from crimson, to russet, to gold, and the birds fly south.
Apples may still be on the tree in October and many grapes are still on the vine, but farmers are gathering their crops. Thanksgiving in Canada comes on the second Monday of October.
Indian summer also comes in October. There will be some warm days this month, but the nights are growing colder and insects that called the garden home will be gone with the first frost. Sparrows and other seed-eating birds are busy this month in fields and meadows collecting food for the winter.
Cosmos and calendula are the flowers for October. The last of the summer crops will come to harvest in October: tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, and corn.
Harvest is the month to store pumpkins and potatoes. Carrots and beets can stay in the ground until you are ready to take them to the table. Be sure to twist off their tops at harvest to avoid thee loss of moisture which keeps them plump.
Protect cauliflowers from autumn winds, and remember that all cabbage family vegetables–cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts–need consistent water this time of year. You can feed them with compost tea every two weeks to give them their final boost.
Continue to plant onions and broad beans through the fall, but be on the lookout for snails and slugs.
In the warmer southern regions of the northern hemisphere, there’s a lot to do in the garden this time of year. Now is the time to plant out cool-season vegetables.
Citrus will begin to ripen and be ready for harvest later this month. Apples and pears are coming to harvest now as well.
Here is list of some of the vegetables and fruits that will come to harvest in October: Vegetables: beans, capsicum (sweet peppers), carrot, celeriac, chilies, Chinese cabbage, corn, cucumber, eggplant, kale, lettuce, melons, okra, peas, pumpkins, purslane, rutabaga (Swede), snow peas, spinach, summer squash, tomato, turnips, zucchini. Fruit: Granny Smith apples, avocadoes, banana, grapes, figs, feijoa, grapefruit, guava, lemons, limes, melons, olives, Valencia oranges, passionfruit, pecans, persimmon, pomegranate, quince, raspberries, strawberries, tamarilloes, walnuts.
Here is a northern hemisphere planting list by region for October:
Cooler northern regions–Zones 3-6: Vegetables: broad beans, cress, leek, lettuce, onion, radish, shallots, spinach, spring onion, strawberry runners. Herbs: caraway, salad burnet.
Temperate Regions–Zones 7-9: Vegetables: artichoke suckers, broad beans, beet (beetroot), cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cress, leek, lettuce, mustard, onion, peas, radish, shallots, spinach, spring onion, strawberry runners, turnip. Herbs: angelica, caraway, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, lemon balm, marjoram, oregano, salad burnet, thyme.
Subtropical and Tropical Regions–Zones 10-12: Vegetables: beans, beet (beetroot), broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, cress, endive, lettuce, mustard, onion, spring onion, parsnip, peas, potato tubers, radish, rhubarb crowns, rutabaga (Swede), Swiss chard (silverbeet), tomato, turnip. Herbs: angelica, borage, caraway, celeriac, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, lemon balm, marjoram, oregano, parsley, salad burnet, thyme.