October was a beautiful month with stunning fall foliage. The first two weeks were warmer than average -- in the mid-seventies. The month is ending with more seasonal temperatures. I did quite a few tasks before it became so cold, including planting more than four dozen miniature daffodil bulbs in the Serenity Garden. We still have to cut back some perennials, especially hostas. I must clean and put away the flower tubs and store garden ornaments in the tractor shed.
|Time to cut back the hostas. Otherwise, slugs will lay eggs under the slimy, dead leaves.|
|We have been raking weeds. Duane shreds them returning them to the flower beds.|
|Only parsley and rosemary remain in the herb trug. It's time to start my indoor herb garden.|
|I must put away garden ornaments to protect them from harsh weather.|
I've been busy with my new garden-coaching business -- I'm adding to my website gardencoach.org. October brought me my first client; I loved touring her garden and giving her ideas for making it better. I continue to answer home gardeners' questions. Here are a few more of the common ones:
Can I plant anything in the fall?
Answer: Plant bulbs: they need a an extended cold period to grow foliage and to bloom. It's not too late to plant container-grown plants. They need time to establish a root system before the ground freezes. In my area that will probably not occur until well into December. Add a thick layer of mulch to prevent them from heaving out of the ground when it freezes and thaws. October is the best time to plant garlic, so this weekend is probably your last chance. Garlic needs a cold treatment for two months to induce bulbing. Grow garlic in a soil with a pH of 6.2 to 7.0. Space the cloves four to six inches apart and three to four inches deep, with the root side down. Mulch heavily with straw.
|I planted this ninebark 'Tiny wine' last fall. It established well.|
How do I winterize the pond?
Answer: With correct preparation for the winter months it is possible for aquatic plants and fish to survive in your pond for years. Our pond is 10 years old and the fish have always survived the winter. When the water temperature drops below 45°F, shut down the filter, remove the filter media and the main pump to prevent damage from freezing. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for draining and storing the pump. Stop fertilizing pond plants and remove any yellow, brown, or decaying foliage. Discard floating plants such as water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). Never put discarded water garden plants in our natural waterways. Put hardy plants such as blue flag (Iris versicolor) in the bottom of the pond to a depth of 20 inches or more. Place tropical plants like tropical water lilies (Nymphaea) in a tub of water in the basement or other location where the temperature is above 50°F. Clean the pond by using a skimmer net to remove debris. Prevent the water from freezing by running an air-bubbler. We add a floating deicer to stop ice from sealing off the pond. Do not allow water levels to drop significantly throughout the winter.
|Last week saw the final water-lily bloom.|
|We winterize our pond between Halloween and Thanksgiving.|
I don't need to weed in the fall, do I?
Answer: It is important that you do a final weeding in the fall before weeds left in the garden go to seed and produce hundreds of new weeds next year. Fall is also the best time to treat lawn weeds with an organic broadleaf weed killer.
| I don't pull Queen Ann's Lace because I love it so. But I pulled most other weeds already.|
What is a cover crop?
Answer: A cover crop is a living mulch that protects the soil from erosion, compaction, and weeds. Cover crops retain nutrients in the soil; some provide pest and disease control. Plant a cover crop in the fall on fallow areas such as raised vegetable garden beds. If possible, do this before the end of September, but you can plant winter rye in October. Winter rye, barley, oats, and winter wheat add organic material and improve soil structure. Alfalfa, crimson clover, and hairy vetch are legumes that fix nitrogen in the soil. Before planting your vegetables in spring, cut, mow, or pull your cover crop and fork under the remaining 'green manure.' I don't have any pictures to show you as I haven't grown a cover crop for some years. Being asked this question, however, motivates me to put it on my to-do list for 2021.
One of the reasons I didn't grow a cover crop this year is because time sped by so fast. I can hardly believe the gardening season is over already. With a hard frost last night, most of the leaves have now fallen and the last blooms have faded. I'm glad I took the following pictures before the freeze.
|My gardens' beautiful October colors.|
|The evergreen needles of the white pines provide contrast to fallen autumn leaves in my woodland garden.|
|Late blooms. I took these pictures earlier this week. They are gone now.|
|A red squirrel was very busy storing walnuts in the tool-shed.|
I am blessed to have had a comparatively peaceful month. I know that some gardeners in the south suffered more flooding from tropical storms. My friend Dee's garden in Oklahoma was devastated by an ice storm that felled many of her beautiful trees. Dee blogs at Red Dirt Ramblings where she tells about the ice storm's double whammy.
I'm linking with Sarah's 'Over the Garden Gate' meme and looking forward to visiting her blog to see some October gardens from around the world.
Stay safe and well, dear gardening friends.
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