05 Oct OCTOBER GARDEN HAPPENINGS
October is the prime gardening month in the fall, because no matter where you live, there is a lot to do! Anytime we move from one season into the next (particularly season changes that include major temperature shifts), there is clean up, planting, and harvesting galore. Use this guide to stay on top of your October garden chores, but remember — take the advice of local garden experts for more specific planting times for your area.
What to Do in Your Garden in October
Zones 3-5: Many of you in these colder climates are putting your gardens to bed for the season, but that certainly doesn’t mean you have a lack of things to do. If you have any plants from a late-season harvest left, go ahead and harvest now. Collect, label, and store seeds from plants that did well, and get your spring-flowering bulbs in the ground as soon as possible. You’ll be happy next spring when you see those happy faces of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth. You can always use a cold frame to extend your gardening season, but proceed with cleaning up your larger veggie and flower garden beds now. This includes weeding, re-mulching, and pruning dead or diseased limbs from trees and shrubs. Avoid any fertilizing this late in the season; you don’t want to encourage any new above-ground growth at this point. Sow cover crops to build soil fertility, plant garlic (if it’s the right time for your area), and prepare next year’s garden beds now. Love indoor bulbs for the holidays? Start your first round of paperwhites now, and plan to pot up more every couple of weeks to ensure a beautiful display all winter long.
See Also: PREPPING GARDEN BEDS FOR THE COLD
Zones 6-7: Gardeners in these zones have a little bit more play time than their neighbors to the north. In these warmer climates, you can still plant garlic, spring flowering bulbs, cilantro, leaf lettuce, parsley, radishes, spinach and turnips. Now’s the time to get those cool-season annuals like violas, pansies, ornamental cabbages and kales, and snapdragons in the ground or in containers. Dig up and store your summer-flowering bulbs and tubers to store for next year. Divide and transplant groundcovers like liriope and mondo grass, and harvest any late season veggies that are still producing. Complete your garden clean-up to minimize pest and disease issues, collect seeds, and rake leaves to add to the compost pile. Prune dead or damaged wood from trees and shrubs. And speaking of trees, October is the perfect time to plant those container grown or balled-and-burlapped shade trees and conifers. Fertilize cool-season lawns by mid-month, and overseed warm and cool season grasses as well. Irrigate any new plantings deeply to get roots established.
Zones 8-11: While gardeners in these zones lamented August and September, they can rejoice now that October is here. October gardening is warmer. More mild climates is all about planting and prep work, as many can still garden throughout the winter season. I hope you have your shovel and garden trowel at the ready, because here’s your list of what you can plant now: flowering perennials, shade trees, shrubs, cool weather annuals, strawberries, garlic, parsley, radishes, turnips, rutabagas, mustard, kale, onions, and perennial herbs. Whew! But we’re not even close to being done yet. Fertilize lawns by the last week of the month, keep your tropical plants watered, and mulch in garden beds and around trees. Collect, label and store any seed from plants that did well in your garden this year. Rake leaves and toss them into the compost pile. Seed wildflowers now, but remember to prepare the soil by removing weeds first and raking the soil. Make sure your Christmas cactus starts getting 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness daily for one month — this will stimulate flower buds. Watch out for cool season garden pests like grubs, worms, and fire ants. And for that matter, be on the lookout for fall garden diseases like brown patch and fungus, and be prepared to treat. If you live in the warmest climates and still have late-season flowers like zinnias, marigolds, and salvias, deadhead them to encourage more bloom.
See Also: PUMPKIN VARIETIES FOR THE HOME GARDEN