Garden To Do List October

At the beginning of October my mid-south, zone 7 garden is still full of blooms but by Halloween it begins its steady decline toward dormancy.  So I start the month in harvest mode and transition into doing a serious fall clean up by the 15th or so.  The to do list is getting shorter, but the tasks seem to require a little more elbow grease.  That’s okay because there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of seeing a garden tidied up for its winter nap.

Here are a few tips to help you get your own garden ready for bed.

  • Cut back perennial foliage after a killing freeze. For a wildlife-friendly garden, cut back plants that have had disease problems during the growing season but leave stems and seed heads that will provide food and shelter for birds.
  • Mark areas where hardy volunteers have dropped their seeds so that next spring you can be on the look out for the seedlings.
  • When using dried flowers with fuzzy seed heads, spray them with hair spray to keep them from shattering.
  • Rake up and remove any leaves on your lawn. It is important to remove dead leaves because over time they will form a dense mat that smothers your grass.
  • Clean and oil garden tools before storing for winter. Read more about storing hand tools.
  • Protect your water features from fall leaves with netting. Stretch the netting over the water surface and secure the edges. Remove the leaves that land on the netting on a regular basis.
  • Before you put away your mower, drain gasoline and take it to the shop for any repairs needed.  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.
  • Transplant deciduous trees and shrubs after the leaves have fallen.
  • Pot up amaryllis bulbs now for indoor blooms during the holidays.  Read more about growing amaryllis.
  • Hill soil to a height of 8 to 10 inches around roses for winter protection. Mulch after the ground freezes. Read more about winter rose care.
  • Save packets of half used seeds in airtight containers in a cool dry place.
  • In my zone 7 garden and other mild winter climates it is best to sow larkspur in mid-fall because the seeds need cool soil temperatures to germinate (50 to 60 degrees F). Read more about sowing larkspur.
  • Plant spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and globe alliums.

Signature Plants

Casper Pumpkin
Camellia sasanqua
Morning Light Miscanthus
'Morning Light'

Good to Know

I garden in zone 7b.  Spring usually starts in March and fall extends through November.  The summers are long and hot.  I write these tips with the idea that they are applicable to all zones during a general period of time. However, given microclimates and weather extremes timing can vary.  Observe the conditions in your garden and apply them accordingly.

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by Ana Cochran on September 28, 2008 01:46
Hello Allen..your advice for October sounds promising..not in Texas.. that is not the is tomatoes/kukes/green peppers are thriving as if it was summer..what advice do you have for us? when in Dec the temp may be in the 70's or higher..many times our trees, flowers, etc are not sure what season it June I am raking fall leaves from the post Dec my geraniums are is a delicate situation..I love living in Texas just because of the excitement of the unknown and snow in Feb/warm and toasty in times though it can be frustrating..I wish you could come and visit us at our beautiful 4 dogs,cats and horses would welcome you..principally we would too..I have send many messages about your travel to seem to concentrate on the colder states..I am not losing of these days you will wear shorts and come and see us..the barbecues,Tx Longhorns, ten gallon hats, wineries and vineyards,the Alamo and cattle and sheep among many others.. Regards and "Don't mess with Texas"..(hahaha) Ana

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