Harvest themes in the Independence Demonstration Gardens get "propped" each fall. Temporary displays in the gardens are fun, creative times after all the good works of weeding, mulching and a little clean up here & there are done.
Plant onion sets, garlic, cabbage, collards, swiss chard and kale. Watch for and treat green worms on broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and collards.
Wrap green tomatoes individually in newspaper and store them in a cool dry place before the first frost for fresh tomatoes into December. Pumpkins and winter squash store better if they are harvested with a few inches of stem remaining intact.
Perennials— continue to dig and divide spring and early summer blooming perennials before the foliage dies back. Daylily, Hostas and Shasta daisies are some examples. Place identification markers beside herbaceous perennials before they die back for the winter, so they won’t be disturbed when planting in the spring. Clean crushed eggshell may be sprinkled around Hostas, Lamb’s ear and other plants that slugs adore.
Annuals—Plant Pansies, Snapdragons and ornamental vegetables for fall color. Seed hardy annuals and biennials such as Foxglove, Johnny jump-up, Larkspur, Poppies, Snapdragon and Sweet alyssum.
Bulbs—Late October through December is the best time to plant spring-blooming bulbs. Keep your bulbs in the refrigerator until you’re ready to plant them.
Elephant ears and Caladium bulbs may be dug now and stored in dry peat moss in a cool place to replant next Spring.
Paper whites and Amaryllis bulbs may be forced for the holidays starting late this month and early November. Allow six weeks from the time you plant for the flowers to open.
Trees, Shrubs & Groundcovers
Fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. Start that fall leaf pile now.
Watch for and treat lacebugs on azalea and pyracantha.
If you didn't fertilize your roses in September, do it now for the last time this season.
Lawn & Landscaping
October is the time to plant cool season grasses like Tall Fescue.
Rake newly seeded lawns weekly to prevent leaves from smothering the new grass.
This is a good time to aerate lawns; coring lawns subject to heavy traffic and/or clay soil will help to minimize compaction and improve rooting. Be sure to break up plugs.
Build a leaf pile and improve your garden soil. Here's our leafy how-to's:
If your water garden is small, cover it with a tight mesh netting to keep leaves out of the pond.
Start a compost pile if you don't already have one. Make use of all those falling leaves and have compost ready to work into the garden next spring. But remember – no weeds or diseased foliage and stems go in the compost pile.
Houseplants that spent the summer outdoors should be cleaned up and brought indoors when night temperatures fall below 50 degrees. Check for insects and spray well with water to wash off insects and their eggs.
Fill your birdfeeders and birdbaths for our migrating friends flying south.
October is a wonderful time to be out in the garden, and it’s a great time to weed and tidy up your garden for the winter. Consider leaving seed-bearing perennials – i.e., ornamental grasses, coneflower, sunflowers, black-eyed Susan – to feed the birds and to provide cover for beneficial insects over the winter.
Gather materials for winter arrangements; hang them upside down to air-dry in a warm dark room—try salvia, Silver King artemisia, purple coneflower, goldenrod, hydrangea, lamb's ears, zinnia and ornamental grasses.