Although I am not ready to pack up the sandals and shorts, it is probably time to at least pull out the jeans and long-sleeve shirts. There are many reasons to be glad that fall is here such as colorful leaves, pumpkins, and cooler weather. Yes, it is a good thing to some people that the heatwave of summer is over until next year. Now you can go outside and sit on the deck without being covered in sweat. And, October is a great time to do those last-minute preparations before winter. This month is a popular gardening month because the days are warm but not hot and the evenings are cool but not yet cold. So now is the perfect time to do some of that stuff you did not feel like doing when it was 100 degrees outside.
Plant Those Bulbs
Yes, this month is the time to plant those bulbs that bloom in the spring such as Daffodils, Crocus, Hyacinth, Iris, Lilies, and Tulips. It may seem like a strange time to be planting anything when it is going to be freezing out soon, but those bulbs that are planted in the ground need to be planted now so they can come up in the springtime. Most of these bulbs need to be planted at least four inches deep, but you should check with the Farmer’s Almanac or Dave’s Garden information about each individual type of bulb to be sure.
Plant Some Garlic, Onions, and Shallots
It does not seem like the right time to plant garlic, onions, or shallots either, but it is. Just like those bulbs, these hearty vegetables need to be planted in the fall to get something from them next spring. With garlic, you need to separate the cloves a few days before planting and you should plant them about a month before the first frost in your area. Onions and shallots, you can plant with sets or just us the roots of the ones you have in your crisper. Onions and shallots should be planted about one inch below the surface and four inches apart, while garlic needs to be two inches deep and about five inches apart.
Winterize Your Other Corms, Rhizomes, Tubers, and Bulbs
For all of those other perennials that you do not want to plant in October, it is time to prepare them for winter. Many types of perennials can just be left in the ground and covered with mulch, but other, more tender vegetation need to be pulled up and stored for the winter. To do this, you just need to carefully dig up the roots of these plants with a garden fork and leave it to dry for several days in a warm area about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, place them in a paper or mesh bag in a cardboard box with peat moss on top.
Keep on Harvesting
You can actually still plant and harvest certain vegetables right up until the last frost. Some of these include cauliflower, radishes, beets, leeks, lettuce, kale, and carrots. If you still have about two months before the first hard frost, you can actually plant any of these and they will typically produce up until Thanksgiving or longer, depending on which zone you live in. In fact, radishes and beets taste better and are juicier if they are grown and harvested in cooler weather.
You cannot just let your lawn go once it starts getting cooler. If your grass is still growing, you have to keep on cutting it. Another thing to remember is that your lawn may be more susceptible to disease if it is not watered until it goes dormant. In fact, there are some grasses that never really go dormant and must be cared for year-round.
Take Care of the Birds
You should also take this time to clean your bird feeders and baths. It is always important to clean them out regularly to prevent disease and to keep mold from growing in them. You still need to keep filling them up though, because winter is the time when food is harder for them to find. You will also be helping those birds that are migrating to warmer climates for the winter.
Cover the Tender Perennials
For those plants that stay out all year long, make sure they are covered before the first frost. You do not want them to get damaged over the winter so protect anything that cannot be brought in by covering it with mulch, compost, or special garden blankets made especially for this purpose.
The last thing to do this month is to clean up the yard and clean and put away all of your gardening tools. Take stock of what you have and take note of anything you will need to buy before next spring. Winter is the best time to buy those gardening tools and supplies on clearance. So, go shopping.