Gardening in October is entirely dependent on the weather. If there's an Indian Summer, there is no better time of year to be out in the garden. While gardeners in warm areas will have more to do than their northern counterparts, there are plenty of garden tasks to keep everyone busy in October.
General October Garden Chores
•Get your soil tested and add amendments as needed.
•Amend your soil with a dressing of compost
•Turn your compost pile.
•Use your garden debris and leaves to start a new compost pile.
•Plant trees and shrubs. Be sure to keep them well-watered, even through the winter (Snow permitting).
•Make sure all vacationing houseplants are brought back inside. After the frost last night, they should have been in all ready.
•Continue planting garlic.
•Clear away dead foliage.
•Dry and save seed.
•Harvest and dry or freeze herbs for winter use.
•Remove green tomatoes from the plants. Either ripen in a brown paper bag or lift the entire plant and hang upside down in a warm spot, to ripen.
•Harvest winter squash once the vines die back, but definitely before a hard freeze.
•Continue harvesting fall crops like beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale and leeks.
•Clean and put away empty containers and garden ornaments.
•Clean and sharpen gardening tools.
•Continue winterizing your water garden
•Clean bird feeders.
•Think about a de-icer for the birdbath. If you're in an area that freezes and you don't have a de-icer, turn your birdbath over to keep it from cracking.
•Enjoy the season. Show off your harvest with a fall display.
North Central Garden Chores
•After the first killing frost, dig your tender bulbs, let dry and package for storage.
•Winterize your roses.
•Divide and/or transplant peonies.
•Plant spring blooming bulbs this month.
•Keep mowing, as long as the grass is growing. But set your mower to its highest level and let the grass go into winter with at least 3" of growth.
Midwest Garden Chores
•Clean up and remove dying foliage.
•Continue planting spring blooming bulbs.
•Harvest winter squash when the rind is too hard to poke a finger nail into.
•Harvest sweet potatoes before a frost. Hope you have done this all ready.
Indoor Plants Garden Chores
•House plants start to slow down as the days get shorter. Cut back on watering and feeding until next spring. Winter feeding will result in weak growth.
•Plan for Christmas blooms on your poinsettia and Christmas cacti. Move both plants so that they are in temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees F. Make sure the Christmas cacti get at least 13 hours of complete darkness at night. Poinsettia will need about 15 hours in the dark. For most of us, this will mean covering the plants themselves. When uncovered, place in bright light. Provide them with water and a general purpose fertilizer. Some do this with their Christmas cactus and some just leave them out and have them bloom anyway. Poinsettias are a different story and do you have any luck with them?
Till next time, this is Becky Litterer from Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa