Growing in October

Organic garlic bulbs and onion sets from Fruithill Farm in West Cork (1a)

It is surprising what can be sown in the garden in October.  Spring is a long way off; the weather is getting noticeably colder and the light is diminishing both in length and quality. Some gardeners might think that it is time to clean and oil all garden tools and store them in the shed with the lawnmower.
Oher’s think differently.  They know that if garlic, onions and certain legumes are sown now earlier crops will be harvested next year.  They know too that these vegetables will be of a better quality than those sown in the spring and will be more resilient to diseases.

Garlic in bed (1b)

To grow Garlic or Gairleog in Irish add plenty of well-rotted organic matter to the soil first such as home-made compost (1a;1b).  Break open the bulbs and sow the cloves 15cm apart with 30 cm between rows.  The tops of the cloves should be c. 2.5 cm below the surface of the ground. Discard any small or soft cloves.

Onion sets in modular tray (2a)
Healthy onions in June grown from trays (2b)

To grow Onions or Oinniúin in Irish use sets. As with garlic, apply a generous dressing of organic matter to the bed (2a;2b;2c).  Plant the bulbs half-way into the soil, 15 cm apart with 30 cm between rows.  Discard ones that are soft and small.  If space is a problem, they can be planted in modular trays and left outside or in a sheltered place or tunnel until March.

An onion from tray pictured in June (2c)

To sow Broad beans or Pónairí leathana in Irish prepare the ground as for garlic and onions (3). A good winter variety is Aquadulce Claudia. Sow the seeds 5cm deep in double rows with 23cm between seeds. If two rows are sown there should be 60 cm between them.

Broad beans (3)

Meteor peas or Piseanna Meteor in Irish is a variety suitable for autumn sowing (4a;4b).  Prepare the bed as above and sow 5cm apart in double rows with 50 cm between rows.  They can also be sown 5cm apart in window boxes filled with peat-free compost.

Meteor pea seedlings in window box (4a)
Meteor peas in window box (4b)