Welcome to the October issue of our series of gardening articles written by local resident and keen gardener, Lee Stevenson (aka An English Gardener in Çalış).

October is a time to harvest the rich pickings of all your hard work throughout the year (figs, olives etc) and dead head any spent flowers, saving any that you require as seeds. Or you can winter the whole plant if possible.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice – October is a time to harvest
Olive trees with mesh underneath to catch the olives. Photograph by Lee Stevenson

This doesn’t mean you should stop sowing or even preparing your ground for next years plants,

Calendula Love

A plant that grows well here in Fethiye and has many benefits is Calendula, also known as English marigold with orange daisy-like flowers that are both edible and decorative. It also has many other uses; it is widely used in cosmetics; its anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties can help treat cuts and even clear up acne for all you teenagers out there. The benefits don’t stop there as it helps dry skin, encourages collagen production and even soothes varicose veins.

Apart from the medicinal benefits , planted around vegetable borders it will also attract aphids away from your crop and attract beneficial predator insects like hoverflies. A great companion plant for carrots, cucumber, asparagus, lettuce & tomatoes.

It doesn’t stop there, they flower on and on into early winter, tolerating light frosts. The more you cut the more they flower and are easy to leave to go to seed or self seed. Any seeds you harvest to sow yourself, sow early March here in Fethiye in a sunny spot. If you can’t wait, you can sow now under cover and transplant later.

If you look online there are many ideas and recipes for soaps, creams and oils. Here’s a link to get you started:

10 Things to Make with Calendula Flowers

As with many medicinal plants, making a soothing cup of tea is the easiest way to enjoy the benefits and dried calendula can be used all year round.

Sow now

Onion sets (small onions roughly as round as 50kr coin) can be bought at the market. I paid under 5 lira for a netted bag in A101 that contained shallots and white onions amongst the normal type of onion. I’ve planted them just below the soil and I expect to see some green growth in a week. It’s also handy to plant onions next to carrots to prevent carrot fly.

Hardy peas and flowering sweet peas can be sown now for over wintering. This will produce stronger plants for next year and your crop will ready to be harvested a month earlier. Broad beans can be sown now up until mid November.

To grow garlic, split the cloves and plant. Other plants that can be sown outside now include radish, lettuce, salad leaves, rocket, spring cabbages, turnip and coriander (better in pots) to cut as required.

Flowers that can be planted this late in the year include asters, calendula (mentioned above), pansies, celosia, dianthus, marigolds and cosmos (I harvested seeds from an orange one found dumped two years ago and I now have 6ft+ tall plants growing every year) .

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice – October is a time to harvest
Calendula seeds harvested. Photograph by Lee Stevenson

Different & Weird

There are many weird and wonderful plants out there to be grown or to “try” growing which is one of the reasons I do it for the challenge, some of which I have listed below.

Glass Corn, Rainbow Corn or Indian Corn: There are numerous names for this multi-coloured corn that grows like regular sweetcorn just a little bit smaller and in fantastic colours.

Rainbow coloured glass corn. Photo Credit: Twisted Sifter

Strawberry Corn: As above – grows like regular corn but with red strawberry shaped cobs. Great for making popcorn.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice – October is a time to harvest
Strawberry corn. Photo Credit: Eden Brothers

Electric Daisy or Toothache Plant: A petal-less yellow flower that, if you chew, gives a mild tingling sensation in your mouth. If you’ve ever put a 9volt battery on your tongue as a kid or remember eating space dust the sensations a bit like that. The toothache name comes from people using to numb toothache pain by chewing where the pain is.

Peter Penis Pepper: Yes you read correct, penis. A chilli pepper that is shaped like a penis.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice – October is a time to harvest
Peter Penis Pepper. Photo Credit: Seeds Gallery

Mimosa Pudica: I bought one of these from the Çalış Sunday market. A miniature mimosa with touch sensitive leaves that react when touched.

I have grown the above plants myself. The ones below I have researched on the internet:

Chinese Red Noodle Bean: produces Bordeaux coloured beans that are nearly 2-feet long.

Calypso Bean: the beans produced by this plant look like the black & white Ying & Yang

Beat the Cold

Now the nights are starting to get colder and a few of us may be having the odd sneeze, the following may help you avoid, or even beat, any illness. They’re just as good as any vitamins in tablet form.

For instance, if you are acid sensitive, beans, basil, carrots, lettuce, spinach and courgettes will increase alkaline to help get you back on track.

Broccoli is one of, if not the best vegetable as it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals. I’ll be growing purple sprouting broccoli again next year.

Bell peppers (the sweet ones sometimes called traffic lights when packed in plastic back in the UK) are packed with vitamins.  The red ones can hold up to three times the amount of Vitamin C as an orange. Leafy veg like kale, cabbage and spinach are filled with iron, which helps to fight fatigue.

Garlic in its purest form is antibacterial, antiviral, anti-parasitic and anti-fungal

My favourite fruit, chillies contain capsicum which inhibits the growth of microorganisms.

Talking of chillies by the time you read this I will have taken part in the first Çalış Chillli Eating competition, held at Café Pazar. In each round there is a hotter chilli to consume, starting with the Red Habanero (scoville heat ranging from 300,000 to 445,000 units) to the Carolina Reaper at (1,569,300 average units) – if anyone lasts that long! The rules are simple, the chilli must be consumed (chewed not swallowed) with no spitting or drinking which will result in disqualification.

I’m hoping it will be a fun event for all, well the spectators at least!

Happy growing all.

Do you have a question about gardening?

Please share your experiences with us and ask any questions you have on gardening. Gardening in a hot climate can present you with many challenges and these articles are here to help you.

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An English Gardener in Çalış