What seeds to sow in October

What seeds can I sow in October? Well, there are plenty of them.

Sowing Under Cover

If you have a covered growing area like a polytunnel, greenhouse or even a cold frame you can start off some spring onions now. Try varieties like Performer or Guardsmen during the winter, they’ll grow away nicely. Performer will grow all year round with a bit of cover and it will provide you fresh onion flavor in your kitchen.

You can also sow some winter lettuces and salad leaves in October. Corn Salad or Lambs Lettuce, a broad leaf lettuce something like Winter Density, Winter Gem or Winter Imperial should grow very nicely undercover. Some of them like Winter Imperial will also grow outside. I tried this last year, I planted some outside and some inside, the ones outside did okay, but they really limped away in comparison to the ones undercover with a little bit of protection.


There are several brassicas that you can start off undercover too. Cauliflower, try All Year Round. I’ve had varying degrees of success with this and I’ve heard from others that they’ve struggled with this too at some times but certainly I’m going to be sowing a few of those now, not very many just maybe half a dozen plants at the most. And likewise cauliflower Romanesco.

Calabrese can be sown now, a variety like Marathon can be started off undercover. Don’t forget you can also start spring cabbages this month.

You can sow kale under cover. I grow it for the very young leaves which I can add to salads or steam lightly and use as a side dish. I grow a Red Russian kale, it grows quite quickly. From sowing to harvesting can be as little as three to four weeks even in the coolest weather.

Baby spinach growing in a seed bed.

If you have a cold frame or a cloche you can sow spinach seeds in October. Select a variety that likes cooler weather, like Perpetual, Giant Winter.

It’s time to put some carrots in under cover. I like a variety called Amsterdam 3. Over the winter months, it will just grow away very gently and steadily and give us some carrots in the early new year.

Harvested beets.

One last seed that I’ll be growing undercover in the polytunnel over winter is beetroot. It grows very slowly, but I can use the baby leaves and salads and then leave the roots to develop in spring and it gives me a really nice harvest of really quite small, but very tasty roots in early springtime.

Direct Sowing Outside

There are quite a lot of vegetable seeds to plant in October that you can sow directly into the ground outside at this time of year.

Fava Beans (Broad beans) can be sown in October. Make sure you choose a hardy variety, like Aquadulce Claudia. They will grow away gently during the autumn and winter and then really pick up in the spring and give you a nice early crop of tasty beans. Likewise some varieties of peas can be sown now. They can be quite hardy and they’ll grow outside giving you lots of fresh pea shoots to add that pea flavour to your meals during the winter.

Field beans can be sown now, they’re often grown as a cover crop to be turned into the soil to increase the nitrogen content of the soil. But you can pinch out the growing tips of field beans and cook them by lightly steaming. They are really worth giving a try because they add another element of freshness to your food in the winter.

Alliums to plant in October

It’s time to start putting in your autumn planted onion sets. Ensure you a variety suitable for overwintering. They are very straightforward to grow. Make a small hole in the ground and push one into it. I like to plant them fairly deeply, so there are a couple of inches of soil above the bulb. I do that because as the little roots are growing down in the soil, they can sometimes push the bulb up a little bit. The small growing tips are very attractive to birds, who then pull them out of the ground and they become dislodged. By planting them that little bit deeper, the roots will have got established and anchored it into the ground before that green shoot shows itself and the birds get a chance to pull at it. And, hopefully, that way it keeps them more securely in the ground.

October is also a good time to plant garlic. Either buy your garlic for growing from a seed seller or if you grew some this year and you still have some stored away you can use that. The way to sow garlic is very simple. Take a bulb and you gently price it apart and plant the individual cloves. You need to put the flat side downwards and the pointy side up. The roots will come from the little flat basal plate. Garlic will overwinter and they’ll grow away and you’ll be able to harvest them depending on the variety between May and July next year. Each little clove will form a whole new bulb. By having the cold period over winter, it means that they will actually separate out into separate cloves and not just be one solid bulb or I think that’s how it works!

Seeds to sow inside or outside in October

Mustards can be sown both under cover and outside. My favorite is Oriental Ruby Streaks, the young feathery leaves have a red coloring. Those small leaves have a caramelized taste and then the more you chew them, the more peppery and fiery the taste becomes. The larger leaves are stronger in flavor. I also like mustard, Green in Snow, it has larger flatter green leaves, it’s also quite punchy in taste.

Don’t forget that you can grow on your windowsill. Herbs like basil, dill and parsley will grow quite happily on your windowsill in the kitchen. As will beansprouts, mustard and cress. They’re so simple to grow. Use dampened cotton ball (cotton wool) or tissue and spread the seeds very thinly across them. In just a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to harvest those to add to salads and sandwiches.

There you go, at least 17 seeds that you can sow during the month of October.

Further Reading

What to Sow in September

Seeds to sow in November

How Much to Grow for Self Sufficiency

How to Stop Cats Pooping in the Garden

Liz Zorab
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