Acer "Burgundy Lace"

Acer “Burgundy Lace”

It’s beginning to feel like Fall out here – what a wonderful time to enjoy the garden.

As our gardens begin to show the effects of the summer heat and the cooler night temperatures, plants turn from lush greens to the colors of Fall – gorgeous umber and sepia tones, goldenrod and red. Petals drop and leaves fade away to reveal the graceful lines of plant structure. The pattern of branch formations are finally visible and the striking textures of various bark that was hidden all Summer is now on display.

Weather can be highly variable this month. We can expect our first night frosts but we sometimes get a few more weeks of Indian summer with days in the 60’s. We could also get our first real rains where several inches fall in one day. Look for a pick tinge in the morning sky as this often means rain is on it’s way.

But October generally has mild days that may be wet but are not yet freezing so we can put on our raincoats and keep on gardening.

Here are some tips on gardening in October:

Pick a bouquet of branches and spent grasses, dried seedpods or evergreens to bring indoors.
Harvest late apples, pears, pumpkins or quince. Once the frosts come they will be damaged. Gather walnuts as well and store in a warm dry spot until heady to crack.
One last round of weeding will go a long way toward easing Spring clean up.
This is a great time of year to mulch with a compost, manure or composted bark. Mulching adds protection to tender plants, as well as builds soil and nutrient plus spreading a nice new layer will clean up beds and help to keep down weeds over the winter.
Continue planting bulbs for spring and summer blooms.
Start ground covers so they can spread out over the winter and come up full and fresh in the spring.
Cut back non shrub roses to protect from winter winds.
Move potted containers to a protected location where they will not fill with water and crack.
There is still time to seed some cover crops if planted early in the month. Cover crops in veggie patches help to keep soil in beds, they fix nitrogen, keep down weeds and gives you something to look at besides bare dirt all winter long.
Pot up bulbs like narcissus and amaryllis to force for the holidays.
Bring in tender house plants that have spent the summer on the patio. Check for pests hitchiking indoors and give them a nice warm shower to clean leaves before the move inside.
Fall is the perfect time to plant perennials! Since the rains are coming it will be much less work for you to keep newly planted gardens hydrated and plants that have had a winter o rooting out will be much stronger and able to withstand the heat of next summer making it much easier to care for them next season!