October Garden Chores

Ilona Erwin

October in 2012 is beautiful in Ohio, and this month has brought much needed rain to the area. The ground and temperatures are still fine for planting bulbs, so hurry to the stores and get your selections. If you have Grape hyacinths (Muscari spp.) you will notice they are putting up fall growth. That is normal and necessary. I lifted some when weeding and went ahead and put them in some new places when we recently straightened our walkway.

Getting rid of the fallen leaves is probably the main task if you live in Ohio, or environs of this type: lots of deciduous trees and cold winters. Many of my trees are Silver maples and they seem to be lazy about losing their leaves… here a little there a little. What can we do with fallen autumn leaves?

  • Put leaves in the compost pile
  • Let leaves rot in bags stored in an out of the way place
  • Mulch lesser amounts with the mower, leave to decay on their own
  • Live in a rural area? burn them

I have an ongoing tug-of-war of the wills with my family who are always in favor of burning, while I want the leaves to go into my compost pile. They often win… they are sneaky. I advocate composting leaves if they are disease free. They do take a little more time because they sometimes get soggy and mat together- which is why I don’t just put them on the vegetable garden anymore.

Task Reminders

Otober is one of the best months for planting trees. The trees have gone into dormancy once their leaves turn color and drop. That is a good time to plant them, and they will get the fall rains to help them settle in.

Bulbs

You can lift bulbs and replant if desired, this month.
Crocus, Tulip, Daffodil, Chionodoxia

More on Perennial tulip varieties (named Darwins and other classes), and Specie tulips.

  • Early October is still fine for perennial planting, although you are cutting it close in the North
  • The same goes for planting bulbs, which benefit from being planted early rather than later in the fall. go ahead and get them planted
  • A great month to plant trees!
  • Apple harvest time
  • Be sure to bring inside your frost tender plants. Frost can appear any time in October.

October posts from the blog

Apple posts for October, from the blog:

Rediscover Heirloom Apples

General Chores for this Month

  1. Buy your bulbs
  2. Plant your bulbs
  3. Dig new beds for the next growing season- the earth is mellow.
  4. Plant some trees and shrubs
  5. Ready your tools and power equipment for storage
  6. Gather and compost tree leaves
  7. Get rid of weeds

Flowers

Chrysanthemums are blooming this month.

New perennials can be still be planted. You may want to mulch them for winter protection, and to prevent heaving in the frosts. Be aware that you risk losing them to winters cold when planting late.

Mulch some of your landscape beds. Those with bulbs or roses, I would wait until later in the season, after the ground has frozen, but it is more comfortable to get ht ejob done now.

Root cuttings of plants you wish to overwinter. Geraniums, special types of impatiens, many others…
What is blooming now? Asters until frosts cut them down, goldenrod still shine with golden locks. Showy sedums are one of the highlights of the October garden and their seedheads will remain all winter. Late foraging bees love the showy Sedum. My Nepeta mussinii is going strong with reblooming that is improved by the cooler weather. Until the hard frosts come, the hardier annuals seem to give their last hurrah.

Veggies

Pumpkins, of course.

Time to start cleaning the veggie garden beds for the next season.

Some cold tolerant plants such as chard and kale will continue to grow and produce in this month.

Evergreens

*Don’t Feed the Evergreens

If they show some browning, especially on their inner parts, don’t worry, it is most likely their normal shedding.

Water well in October to prepare for winter, as I reminded you in September’s tips. October is very similar in tasks, although getting ready for winter is more urgent.

Clean your tools and store at the end of the month.

For more tips for this month:

Autumn Garden TasksAutumn Garden TipsOctober

Important: Keep Up with the Weeding

Any weeds done away with are less seeds for next year. Be sure to get rid of the burdock- these have been the bane for my dog’s fur this year. We are going to be kept busy removing burs matted into his long white fur.

Chores For October

PlantStoreHarvest
Most trees and shrubs will put down good root systems if planted now. *Remember to trim back broken branches or top heavy plants.*Prepare storage for your summer bulbs. Once foliage has died down, lift bulbs and store in a cool dry, frost free place.*Keep harvested seeds in a cool dry place
Plant the nursery grown chrysanthemums for instant fall color*Lots of tomatoes to ripen? If they are not too green, lay them out ( not touching) on newspaper in a cool dry place. I use my basement. They slowly ripen and I have fruits long after the outdoors plants are gone.*Keep your vegetable garden harvested and the new plantings thinned for optimum growth.
*Prime time to plant your tulips and daffodils. Those you want to force for winter bloom go into refrigeration for a bit (6-8 weeks)*Use slow acting fertilizers like bone meal for fall feeding.First frost dates fall in this month for Ohio and other states in proximity.
Plant seeds that will overwinter in your area. Try some of the “hardy” annuals.Clean and oil tools for winter storage.Use root storage bin for potatoes, etc.

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.