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October garden tips & tasks

Winding down from summer, gearing up for fall. These garden tips and tasks will get you outdoors to enjoy crisp fall weather.

Early in the month

maple leaves in fall

Rake leaves as they begin to fall and add them to the compost.

Leaf-raking is about to begin (or in some cases, has probably already begun). Shred leaves with the mower and place them in the compost, or shovel them directly onto garden beds as mulch.

Continue to provide water if the weather is dry. Herb beds, especially herbs that last through winter, benefit from regular moisture as the weather cools down.

Plant garlic. Prepare the soil so that it drains well and mix in a good balanced fertilizer. Separate the garlic bulb into individual cloves, and plant them about 2 inches deep and about five inches apart, pointed ends up. Add mulch to suppress weeds. Garlic will grow over the winter and will be ready to harvest next spring.

Cheery pots of mums brighten porches and garden, but remember to provide water to keep them fresh as long as possible.

Bring your houseplants back inside before nights begin to turn crisp. Clean the pots before you bring them in, and check the containers and the soil for hitchhiking insects.

Mid-October

Plant summer herbs in a pot to grow in a sunny window – or under lights – over the winter.

Harvest that second planting of bush and pole beans, cucumbers and summer squash, along with any tender herbs, before frost threatens.

daylilies

Many perennials can be divided in fall.

Perennials that need to be divided can be dug and replanted now. Prepare the new planting bed by removing weeds and amending the soil. Do this before you dig the plants to be divided so that perennials can be replanted immediately. Keep newly transplanted roots and foliage watered.

Bring any tender perennials – potted citrus trees, tropical hibiscus, bougainvillea, etc. – indoors and set them in a sunny spot to spend the winter. Provide regular water throughout fall and winter.

Clean up spent flowers, rotting foliage and other debris from perennial and annual beds to prevent harmful insects and diseases from overwintering.

Later this month

As leaves continue to fall, rake or blow them from newly seeded lawns to keep falling laves from shading the new grass.

Fall is a good time to plant trees and shrubs. Be sure to provide enough water now and throughout the plants’ first year. A layer of mulch helps keep the soil moist.

spring-flowering bulbs

Now is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs.

Plant spring-flowering bulbs. Some garden wildlife consider bulbs a tasty treat, so you may need to protect your plantings by laying poultry fencing across the planting bed and covering it with soil. The foliage will grow through it next spring. Garden critters won’t bother daffodils, which are poisonous to chipmunks and other rodents, but tulips are often in danger of becoming a rodent’s dinner.

Say goodbye to summer gardening by cleaning mowers, trimmers and other power tools, emptying hoses and storing them indoors, and cleaning dirt and mud from garden tools before putting them away for winter.

 

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