October Garden Calendar

Clean up the garden. Remove and discard any diseased foliage. Remove dead annuals and cut back perennials, leaving about a three-inch crown. Exceptions are roses, chrysanthemums, ornamental grasses, butterfly bush, Russian sage, agastache and other late-bloomers that shouldn’t be cut back until late February or early March. Add disease-free, chemical-free cut foliage materials to the compost pile. Cut or shred any larger stems or branches for quicker breakdown in the pile.

– When temperatures remain at 22 degrees for several nights, mulch your more tender roses such as hybrid teas with additional mulch, evergreen boughs or dry shredded leaves. Stay away from sawdust or peat moss, which packs tightly, defeating good air and water circulation. We used the leaves from our trees to mulch last year. Works great and breaks down releasing humic acid in the spring which greatly improves soil quality.

– Before a hard frost, exposure to 40-degree temperatures will destroy the enzyme responsible for ripening green tomatoes. When that barrier looms in the forecast, harvest any remaining green tomatoes and bring them indoors. Wrap in newspapers until ripe or place on a rack, not touching, in a place that has 65- 70-degree temperatures. Or try pulling the whole plant and hanging it, upside down, in a frost-free garage or porch. The fruit will slowly ripen. Can, freeze or dry extra fruit for winter use.

– Throughout the winter, set up a schedule to water every four to six weeks unless we have an unusually wet season. Wait for a day when the temperature is over 40 degrees, drag out hoses and water early in the day. Southern and western exposures usually need the deepest watering, along with any newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials. Water each setting for about 30 minutes. Be sure to disconnect hose and roll it up to drain it to prevent freeze damage, leaving it ready to use the next time it’s needed. And remember that warm, windy fall weather means the landscape dries out even faster.

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