October Garden Tips
Many mild fall days still lie ahead, so why rush
through nature’s festive season? Celebrate every
brilliant late bloomer, colorful gourd, dancing leaf,
textured seed head, and fiery sunset. Autumn’s
generosity is to be savored.
The October to-do list is shorter than past months, but the tasks are no less important. Try to tidy up the garden, plant spring flowering bulbs, add to your perennial garden, and incorporate shrubs with glorious fall color to your landscape before cold days arrive. Here are a few other tips to help you get your own garden ready for bed:
- Collect dried plant material from your garden, roadsides, or vacant fields and create a fall themed wreath.
- Bring in any houseplants that remain outside. Cut back on feeding and watering. (it is best not to not feed dormant houseplants)
- Cut back perennial foliage after a killing freeze. For a wildlife-friendly garden, cut back any plants that had disease problems during the growing season, but leave stems and seed heads that will provide food and shelter for birds.
- Rake up and remove any leaves on your lawn. It is important to remove dead leaves that in a dense mat could smother your grass.
- Clean and oil garden tools before storing for winter.
- Before you put away your mower, drain gasoline. It’s also a good time to have the blade sharpened and balanced.
- Use hardware cloth to wrap around the base of small fruit trees and roses. This will protect them from rodents. Place chicken wire (4 to 5' ht) around small trees to discourage deer damage.
- Transplant deciduous trees and shrubs after the leaves have fallen.
- Pot up amaryllis bulbs now for indoor blooms during the holidays.
- Hill Black Forest or some other compost to a height of 6 to 8 inches around roses for winter protection. Mulch after the ground freezes.
- Save packets of partially used seeds in airtight containers in a cool dry place.
- Plant deer resistant spring flowering bulbs such as, Daffodil, Camassia, Dutch Iris, Narcissus, Hyacinths, and Alliums for glorious early spring color.
- Dig and bring in cannas, dahlias and gladiolus. Dry, clean and store in a cool location free from frost.
- Pick bagworms from evergreen shrubs. This will eliminate a spring hatch from over-wintered eggs.
- Clean up dropped fruit from around your tree. Sanitation is essential for good maintenance. Dried fruits or mummies carry disease organisms through the winter to attack next years' crop.
- Fall is an excellent time for taking soil
samples in your lawn and garden. Soil tests will
measure the pH of the soil, organic matter content
and the levels of some of the major elements
required for plant growth, such as calcium,
phosphorus and potassium. Obtain soil test kits from
Penn State Cooperative extension. Call 412-473-2540