Clean up, harvest, preserve. That’s what we do in October.
The Mountain Gardener is a newsletter put out by the Buncombe County Master Gardeners program, part of NC Extension. Each month they include a list of garden chores specific to western NC, as well as a calendar of events, class information, and planting tips.
Here is the slightly adapted list of chores for this month:
After the hot dry summer, many lawns have bare areas in need of reseeding. October is getting late to plant, so try to get seed down as soon as possible. If it has been dry remember to keep it watered. This is a good time to fertilize the cool season lawn.
Fall is a good time to plant trees and shrubs. Pull roots loose on container grown plants and do not plant too deep. Water thoroughly before mulching.
Purchase spring blooming bulbs. Plant late in October or in November. Clean up the flower bed. Remove spent annuals. Shake out seeds if you want zinnias, cosmos, bachelor button, and the like to reseed. When you cut back the perennials, you might want to leave seed heads for the small birds to finish off.
Clean up house plants before moving back indoors. Take the time to cut them back and remove dead leaves and flowers. While you are at it, inspect carefully for insect infestations and treat before bringing the plants indoors.
Diseases in gardens and orchards this year call for good sanitation. As you rake leaves, also remove any fruit left in the trees and pick up all fruit from the ground. Tend the strawberry bed if not done yet, pull weeds, fertilize and water if needed.
Good sanitation is important here as well. Remove spent plants to the compost pile or turn them into the soil to rot. If tomato plants were infected with late blight, it is best to destroy those plants by burying deeply or bagging them and sending them out in the trash.
Harvest basil before frost zaps it. Make pesto or freeze the leaves for later use.
Consider planting a cover crop to turn under in early spring. Spray all crucifers (cabbage family crops) with organic B.t. (Bacillus thruingiensis) every 7 to 10 days to kill the various caterpillars that eat the plants.
Pick baby greens, pumpkins, winter squash, gourds.
Fall is a great time to start a new compost pile. You can build a bin or just pile all that yard waste in the corner (more information here on back yard composting).