Welcome to Lee’s gardening advice for October written by local resident and keen gardener, Lee Stevenson (aka An English Gardener in Çalış).

Now that the ‘cooler’ nights are here a lot of people think that the garden winds down after the last days of summer. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The tasks change as the temperature drops, but there are more things to do then ever in your flower or vegetable garden.

There’s so much to be done, here are just a few of these jobs.

Harvesting the last of the summer vegetables, storing any squash vegetables such as pumpkin, butternut, marrow’s etc in a cool place out of direct sunlight. Providing there is no damage to the skin most squash can survive up to three months.

Sowing some of the last seeds of the year and prepare the garden and your plants for the colder season ahead.

Prepare to get dirty

Dig over any hard soil that has been baked during the summer months and, if required, remove any weeds/plants no longer required. Add compost or feed to improve the soil quality.

Spring into action

Plant spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocus, anemones and hyacinths in the ground or make decorative pots that can brought inside when flowering for a living bouquet.

If you are in an area that suffers from frost, consider lifting tender bulbs such as dahlias, tuberous begonias, calla lilies or canna lilies.

Plant onion sets right up to early spring for a head start on next years onion harvest – I intend to grow onions from seed as I have heard that these produce larger onions and I’m going to try and grow a ‘big un’ just for fun in a pot. If you do decide to grow from sets (small bulbs) choose the smaller ones as the bigger the onion the less it will grow and is more likely to go to seed.

Plant garlic cloves once the warmer days are a bit cooler, easy to do from garlic bought at the market.

Sow quick growing fall crops such as lettuce, radish and spinach under cover to extend the harvest into next year.

Sow sweet peas in early autumn and they’ll over winter and give you earlier flowers on stronger plants next summer.

Broadly speaking

Broad beans can be sown right up to the middle of November here, either in small pots to over winter under cover or direct in the garden (the method I use) as the winters are mild here. Again this produces stronger plants earlier next year that are less affected by greenfly.

If you have a lawn the best time to sow grass seed is early to mid-autumn when weeds are less competitive and rainfall is more reliable.

Divide and conquer

Divide perennial plants such as daylilies, peonies and iris to create more plants for your garden.

Feeling fruity

If you’re thinking of planting trees, the autumn is a great time especially for fruit trees. If you prefer evergreen trees, wait until the spring.

Pot up any strawberry runners you have as they should have there own little roots now and can be cut from the parent plant. I’ve noticed out here some varieties of strawberry also fruit in December.

Dead head any flowers still flowering and you might get a late burst of colour into the cooler months.

Hot Stuff 

If any of you went to the second Çalış Chilli eating competition you will know that for the second year running it was won by a Turkish entrant so well done to Ismail Otçu. 

I decided not to enter this year as there were enough (seven) competitors to make it fun – I also knew how ‘hot’ it would get as I supplied the chillies and sauce.

A big thank you to all who entered and came along to watch/support the contestants. Also to Charcoal Palace and all the restaurants in Bedesten square that supported and helped make it an enjoyable fun night.

What do you want to know about gardening?

If you have any questions or suggestions about gardening and there is something in particular you wold like me to cover in future articles, please let me know via an English Gardener in Çalış or Fethiye Times.

As I have said before, I am by no means a professional gardener and do it just for fun so I’ll leave you with this thought…

As the great Monty Don has said: “The point of gardening? Its to find solace, to be happy, to make beauty, have fun and muck about. How you do it doesn’t matter.”

Until next time keep growing!