October Garden Chores

General Garden Tips

October is a month of closing up the garden in readiness for winter; still doing plenty of gardening, but with the end in sight.

  • Put away or covering garden furniture
  • Pot up any last plants to save over winter: geraniums,impatiens,etc.
  • Get tools ready for storage
  • Use the mowers for the last time or two; then empty out gas and clean up for winter storage
  • Gather the last tomato and pepper harvests

Prime apple harvest month, the farm stands are burgeoning with many types of apple varieties. Most apples ripen this month, and windfalls produce rich cider making. Read more about autumn apples and orchards.

A rack is handy for keeping apples or other winter stored produce in good condition. Easy way to keep dahlia, gladioli, and other bulbs, too.

There will be frosts this month in Ohio, be ready to cover your tomato plants to extend the harvest. Dig up (lift) summer bulbs such as gladioli, dahlias, tuberous begonias, caladiums, etc. store them for winter. Note the orchard rack, above. Make sure your houseplants have been moved inside.

I don’t cut back my perennials in the fall except for those which look too scraggly, but many people do; now is the time for that garden cleanup if you prefer it. It is useful for ridding the beds of diseased foliage.

Ideal time for fertilizing your lawn, but not your trees or shrubs.

Make sure the garden is kept watered if this month proves dry – a few deep soakings.

Frost dates in Ohio:

  • Akron- 10/2
  • Columbus- 10/3
  • Cincinnati- 10/13
  • Dayton- 10/16
  • Toledo- 9/29
  • Cleveland- 10/5
Need frost date information for a different region? Some excellent frost/freeze date maps: Frost Date Maps

Don’t mulch the landscape too early: wait til the ground has frozen a bit

Leaf raking!

autumn leavesHere in Ohio this is when you have vibrant leaf color followed by the leaf fall. Have you got your needed tools in order? Large sturdy rakes? Wheelbarrow? Leaf Vacuum? I like to rake the leaves in periodic efforts instead of waiting (and risking soaking rain) for one big leaf raking orgy.

Need tools? Advice or suggestions for garden tools?

Leaf mulch makes good leaf mold or compost. Oak leaves, Pine needles, are acidic, Maple are alkaline.

The last mowings can mulch a certain amount of the leaves fallen on your grass. Don’t leave leaves on the lawn over winter, it will suffocate the grass. Leaves will blow with winter winds so pile them into a contained area or bag them.

If you wish to compost leaves in your raised bed boxes, place netting on the leaves and secure it with curved wire holdfasts that you create with heavy duty wire curved using an old gallon paint tin to form uniform half circles. Hold the netting as if with giant hairpins.

Why should I keep my leaves, instead of burning them? I’ll let someone else explain it properly,


Plant trees, still a good time with frost-free ground well into December for good rooting. Be sure to keep well-watered, but not overwatered.

planting hole should be two to three times wider than the root ball but only as deep as the soil line on the trunk.

Common advice now is to not add soil amendments when planting trees, but I had better results when adding some compost and peat moss. The old advice? add amendments when you plant, the new? Don’t do that since it supposedly causes weak rooting. I think if you are careful not to have impervious sides to your planting hole (like you sometimes get with clay soils), that digging in some extra good soil starts things off right.

It is common practice in my area to mulch for winter beginning in this month. Be sure NOT to “Volcano Mulchpiling up mulch round the base of tree in volcano shape. When piled up against the tree trunk it does many undesirable things, all unhealthy for the tree. Space the mulch away from the trunk flare, about 2-3 inches deep.

Flower Bulbs

flower bulbs

You might like these pages:

Most of your bulb planting will likely be in this month, plant with the addition of bone meal.

Veggie Garden

Plant garlic this month, in a sunny spot in the veggie patch. Dig in fertilizer, set individual cloves in about 3-4 inches deep.

pumpkin02.gif October is time for pumpkins, fields of them.

Cover crops, “green manure”, can be planted on the vegetable bed, using cover crops such as alfalfa, clover and soy beans, or grasses such as oats, rye and buckwheat. They are then tilled in in the spring. Benefits are soil preservation, and fertilization.

I used red clover, some use winter rye. Green manures help build soil tilth and fertility. There are varieties for each season and region. Check with your local extension service.

Or if you have it, add other types of manure.