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October in the garden, what there is to do

Bales of hay for mulch with pumpkin harvests

The last days of mild weather merge with the flamboyant hues of autumn leaves. Leaves start falling from trees to litter the ground with a beautiful carpet of yellow, orange and red. October is one of the most beautiful months of the year, certainly one of the nicest to be outdoors working on the garden tasks!

Grass and lawn in October

After having dethatched your lawn in September, October is the time to prepare your lawn for the onslaught of cold weather.

  • Provide fertilizer to reinforce it one last time before winter and block appearance of moss.
  • Don’t mow as often, and raise your blades somewhat. Grass that is too short tends to be more vulnerable to the cold and to foul weather.
  • If it pleases you to see cute flowers appear at the end of winter and at the very beginning of spring, now is the time to plant a few bulbs like grape hyacinth, crocus, or snowdrop.
    They’ll sprout to make a wonderful ground cover of flowers before the grass starts growing again!
  • Rake up fallen leaves every few days.

Roses in October

  • Repeat-blooming rose trees will bloom up to the first frost spells if you’re careful to remove wilted flowers from the rose bush as they die off.
  • Keep removing the weeds that grow around your rose trees.
  • Autumn moisture often causes rose trees to be infected by fungus that make their leaves turn yellow and fall off. Pick them up often and destroy them, and prepare fungicide treatment to apply once all leaves have fallen off.

Garden flowers in October

It’s the month to plant perennials and also divide the clumps. Start protecting the most vulnerable potted plants. Garnish your fall garden boxes.

The vegetable patch in October

After an abundant summer harvest, now the time for winter vegetables has come, together with the last of the summer fruits.

If ever some plots are free until the following spring, sow green manure to naturally amend your soil.

  • Wrap up the harvest of your last summer vegetables like tomato, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper.
  • Bring the first ripe fall vegetables inside in a cool, dry and well ventilated spot (about 50 to 55°F (10 to 12°C).
  • Harvest squash, carrot, turnip and red beet when they’re mature enough.
  • Start sowing your winter radish and protect them in a tunnel greenhouse or a cold frame.
  • Manure can already be spread on unused portions of your vegetable patch.
  • Pull out all the root vegetables.
  • Bring your celery and endives in.
  • Plant pink garlic for the next summer’s harvest.
  • Before the first frost spells, remember to bring your parsnips in.
  • Collect corn salad according to your needs.

Fruit trees and orchard

A bushel of applesOctober is an important month in the orchard, especially for apples and pears that reach full maturity, and also walnuts and chestnuts that are ready for picking.

Take advantage of October, while the climate is still mild, to plant certain fruit trees like actinidia.

Trees and shrubs in October

All the trees and shrubs you’ve purchased in containers are now at the optimal planting time, especially in areas that might meet deeper frost spells come November.

  • Prune the shrubs that flower in the summer.
  • Remove wilted flowers.
  • Start spreading mulch around stems and trunks of shrubs to protect them from the winter cold.

Terrace, balcony, decks

If you’ve got plants vulnerable to freezing such as geranium, oleander, citrus, bougainvillea, it’s time to think about bringing them indoors, to a safe, freeze-free spot before the cold spells hit.

  • Just as for the garden flowers, pull out annuals that have given up trying to bloom any longer, and start replacing them with spring-blooming biennials.
  • Thoroughly clean all empty pots and garden boxes, and if the soil looks poor and old, change it.
  • Prune climbing plants to balance their shape out.

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY 2.0: Anja W.
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