1. October is the month to get ready
for spring, especially if you want spring flowers from bulbs. October is
the time to plant tulips,
if you want the spring flowers. It is surprising how many people come into
the garden center in April and May asking for tulip bulbs.
It is also time to plant ALIUM bulbs in order to have those big round purple flowers next
year. I dug mine last week, divided them as they had really multiplied,
and will get them back in the ground next week
2. It may seem strange to think that
October is the time to get ready for spring. But I have found that the
more I do in the fall, the easier it is in the spring. Also, I have found
that the better I prepare my flower garden, my vegetable garden, my lawn,
my trees and shrubs for winter, the healthier they are in the spring. Many
diseases and insects over winter in the debris from dead leaves and
flowers in your garden and so they need to be removed. Do not put diseased
material in your compost pile.
3. Get out a notebook and write down
what worked and what didnít this year. What flowers really bloomed for
you and what were disasters? Write it down. I have a hard time remembering
in the spring which tomatoes I planted where and which ones really did
well. I also write down which row in the vegetable garden had what kind of
plant. Every year I try to rotate and move things over one or two rows.
You might also want to write down where you got the plant or seed that did
very well so you can go back next year.
Make a note of any noteworthy productive or unsatisfactory
varieties of vegetables that you planted this year. Such information can
be very useful when planning next yearsí garden.
4. Did you plant a new shrub or tree
this year? Write down the kind of tree or shrub, the cultivar, where
purchased, and where planted. Be sure and save that tag that came with the
tree or shrub. I also have a drawing of my rose bed with the name of each
rose. Without that map I canít seem to remember what the names are.
5. Remove any diseased or
insect-infested plant material from your garden, as it may harbor
over-wintering stages of disease or insect pests. If you leave this plant
material in your garden, you are leaving diseases and insects which will
begin to reproduce again next spring and add to next years' pest problem.
Do not put these in your compost pile.
6. Rake up leaves, twigs and fruit
from Apple or Crabapple trees and dispose of them in the trash to help
control Apple scab disease. Remove all mummified fruit from fruit trees
and rake up and destroy those on the ground. Good sanitation reduces
infestation of insects and diseases the following season.
7. Keep Strawberry beds weed free.
Every weed you pull now will help make weeding much easier next spring.
8. Reduce Peony botrytis blight and
Hollyhock rust by removing and disposing of all old leaves and stems this
fall. This will reduce the carryover of the diseases during the winter and
you will have less trouble next year. My Peony bed is such that I can just
run the lawn mower over it and pick up all the debris. Apply a liquid or
dust copper fungicide to the Peony bed after stems are cut and removed and
again in the spring when new shoots are about 1 inch high.
9. Inspect trees and shrubs for
bagworm capsules. Remove and destroy them to reduce next yearís pest
population. Soak the bagworm capsules in a pail of water for an hour or
so, or step on the bags so the eggs are destroyed, then put in the garbage
11. Blackspot can overwinter in the dead rose
leaves and foliage left in the bed. Do not put any diseased leaves and
plant material in your compost where it can overwinter.
12. Spray those weeds in your lawn now,
especially ground ivy, henbit, clover, and dandelions. Two to three
applications of Trimec, Clopyralid, or Triclopyr, 10 to 14 days apart is
recommended. Weeds destroyed now will not go to seed early next spring.
Weeds sprayed next spring that flower before you spray will probably still
set seeds and those seeds will germinate next summer or next fall.
13. Start a compost pile with shredded leaves and
grass. This organic material tilled into the garden or used as mulch in
the flower garden, is the best material you can add to break up hard clay
soil. A hot compost pile is best. Properly constructed and turned
regularly it will heat up. If it reaches 140 degrees F. weed seeds will be
destroyed. At 160 degrees F. most disease pathogens will be destroyed.
Coffee grounds, or a few hands full of high nitrogen lawn fertilizer, or
green material like grass clippings, is needed to generate the heat when
the brown material like leaves are breaking down. Use a small kitchen
thermometer or a long stem compost thermometer and when the pile starts to
cool down, turn the pile or mix it up so there is plenty of air to help it
heat up again. The pile may dry out from time to time and need some water.
I use a Ross Root Feeder to add water. A cold compost pile takes at least
one year and usually two or more years to break down. My hot compost pile
breaks down in a few months in the summer and a little longer during the
winter. I started mine last fall and will start to tear them down next
week and then till the compost into my garden. Do not worry if it is not
all broken down. The freezing and thawing over the winter will take care
of that. As soon as possible I will reassemble the compost containers and
start over with the leaves my friends have already started to bring.
14. Apply a fall or winter fertilizer to your
lawn sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving. When we have a warm fall
I do not put mine on until at least Thanksgiving. Do not apply too early
in the fall or it will be used up before winter comes. If you applied your
winter fertilizer before October 1st, re-apply a slow release
fall/winter fertilizer in mid to late-November. This is the best Christmas
present you can give your lawn.