October To-Do’s in the Yard and Garden

October is the month of beautiful leaf color, cooler temperatures, and Mother Nature’s yawning. Soon the leaves will be changing color, and we will get to see if all the rain this summer will make the color more vivid or if there will be less color. There should be abundant sugars in the leaves. We will just have to wait and see.

Photo courtesy of Jan Barrow

In October, our attention is directed toward the following:

  • Rebuilding the compost pile with debris from cleaning up the yard and garden

  • Staking newly planted trees loosely for winter wind protection

  • Cleaning the bird feeders and putting them away

  • Inspecting, cleaning, and repairing the garden tools

  • Cleaning and storing the flower and plant containers in use this year

  • Moving the house plants inside and placing them in a sunny window for the winter

  • Waiting until the weather gets cooler to prune the roses; however you can fertilize them now.

  • Timing is right to fertilize the camellias, hydrangeas, azaleas and rhododendrons

  • Looking ahead to spring, deer love to eat tulips, but will not eat daffodils. Just a hint about which bulbs to plant in the fall.

  • Sanitizing the garden and flower beds is the first step in managing diseases. All diseased plant parts should go into trash bags— not on the compost pile.

  • Inspecting groundcovers that are not performing, that look weak and diseased, will be an indicator that you should mow them off close to the ground, rake the debris, and place it in a trash bag. Do not fertilize this fall, wait until spring.

  • Stop feeding the fish in your water garden as the weather gets colder. They cannot metabolize food easily in cold weather.

  • Last, but not least, continue to divide the perennials.

Now that the weather is getting cooler, look to plant the ornamental cabbage, mums, and pansies, as they make a showy statement around the house and flower beds. When you purchase the mums, make sure you know if they are “hardy” or “annuals.” Hardy ones will come back next year, while annual mums are just for show right now, but will not return next year.

Generally speaking, this growing season has certainly been different, when you consider how much rain and the excessive number of 90+ degree days we have had. I hope the gardens performed as well as they could under the stressful conditions, that they produced enough to eat and preserve, and that you were able to enjoy the beautiful flowers of the summer.

Article by Dawne Howard, FCFCDB Member

Nature Note for 10/14/2018