October can be such an uncertain month for gardeners. Though winter can come to stay at any moment we often can get an Indian summer throughout the entire month.
If heavy snowfall and cold weather seem likely, rush to complete outdoor work – with emphasis on harvesting and winter protection.
After mounding tender roses, cut the tops back to half their height, then if there is time defoliate the remaining canes. Before snow and after defoliation is a good time to prune all deciduous trees and shrubs.
Consider the fall seeding of Swiss chard, head lettuce, Spanish onions and parsnips. Here are a few gardening tips for fall.
Before the ground freezes down
- Complete the harvesting of vegetables such as cabbage and sprouts.
- Dig remaining root crops.
- Dig gladiola and cure corms in a warm, dry place.
- Complete planting of tulip bulbs for spring bloom.
- Continue to water woody plants if soil becomes dry.
- Mound up tender roses before snowfall.
- Rake up leaves and save for compost area.
- Clean out eaves’ troughs.
- Dig the vegetable garden, turning under decomposed organic matter.
- Pot up special tulips, daffodils and hyacinths for winter forcing.
- Repair fences, walks and other elements of your yard.
- Plant your spring flowering bulbs as early as you can so they have time to send down a few roots before the ground freezes hard.
After the ground freezes down
- Prune trees and shrubs.
- Complete the mounding of tender roses and place straw covering over strawberries.
- Protect woody plants against wild animals if they pose a problem.
- Service the lawn mower and other mechanical equipment.
- Store cold frames, wheelbarrows, and other garden equipment under cover.
- Clean and store hand tools under cover.
- Reduce watering of houseplants but increase humidity.
- If snow cover is uncertain mulch perennials.
- When harvesting vegetables, you may wish to save the waste leaves and return them to the garden later in the form of compost. Make sure they are free of disease before adding them to the compost bin; if uncertain then toss them out.
Prepare bulbs for indoor winter bloom
Flower bulbs for winter forcing indoors are specially selected kinds pre-treated to provide mid winter bloom. After potting and watering they are kept in a cool, dark place to grow roots.
When the roots are developed they are pulled out of the dark into the warm sunlight of a window where they will delight you with blooms to enjoy in the cold of winter.