The Gardener's October Calendar ~ 2016

Here we go! The season has definitely flown by, and now it's time to clean up after the party!

  • It's time to plant garlic! For instructions, click here. Usually I try to get mine in the ground (in Connecticut) beginning Columbus Day weekend or a little thereafter. This gives the garlic time to start growing before winter arrives. This year when I plant my garlic I also plan to feed it with organic fertilizer and mulch it with straw. My friend did that and her garlic turned out to be enormous! Of course, starting with good quality garlic is key. Do not use the garlic sold in grocery stores. (That is usually sprayed to prevent sprouting.) There are lots of good places to buy garlic. Locally I am lucky to have an organic nursery which sells it, but I have also ordered from High Mowing Organic Seeds and Hudson Valley Seed Library in the past and had success.
  • Have you harvested your Kieffer pears? The stem is the key to the ripened fruit! Click here to learn more!
  • Start planting spring-blooming bulbs now. Use photographs you took in the spring to figure out which areas of the garden need early color. (You did take photos, right?) Not sure what to order? View my bulb picks for 2017 here, or get inspired from the Still Growing podcasts I participated in. (We narrowed our choices down to 47!)
  • Clean up portions of the garden that you won't be leaving to wildlife over the winter. What stays? Echinacea - for birds, mostly! What goes? I cut down bee balm and feverfew. I trim back irises and daylilies - one so they look neater and two so there's less of a temptation for the iris borer to be attracted to and eat my irises. Fall-blooming anemones can be cut back, too, unless you want them to spread by seed. For more ideas, read this story I wrote for the blog that features tips from a master gardener.
  • Keep an eye on the weather - mainly the overnight temperatures. It's time to find spots for all of the plants you plan to bring inside for the winter. For me, that includes tropicals, like hibiscus, orchids and crotons, as well as cuttings of coleus and geraniums that I want to make into new plants for next year. 

A purple/pink Global Warming mum.

  • Keep planting! Add fall-blooming asters and perennial mums to the garden. (NOT the hot-house ones! They won't survive the winter!) You can even add grasses, too. I really like the Global Warming mums because they bloom so much later than everything else - sometimes as late as Halloween! (Which makes waiting around all season for them to bloom worth it.)
  • Add pumpkins to your landscape decorating. You can make a hot pepper mix to spray on pumpkins to keep the squirrels from nibbling on them. (That's usually what I have to do to keep them looking nice.) It washes off with rain though, so you might need to reapply multiple times. Here's a link that shares some possible combinations you can use.

  • Curl up with a good book to tide you over on the upcoming cold nights. Need some ideas for what to read? Check out the gardening books I've read and reviewed
  • Have a fire pit? We are now in the perfect time of year to use it at night. But make sure your property isn't too dry - and don't light a fire when it's windy. Fire pits should be at least 10 feet away from any buildings, and make sure you have water nearby - before you light the fire - that will be used to put it out. Make sure any dried leaves are removed from around the fire pit to prevent stray embers from catching ablaze. And keep the fire small. I usually leave the ashes and burned wood in the fire pit for several days before I remove it. Here are some ways the (cooled) ashes can be used in your garden.
What are you doing in your garden this month? I'd love to hear in the comments below!


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