October is a very busy month for the gardener, because there so many things to do to put the garden to bed for the year. I think the most important is to take time to smell the fresh fall air, filled with the aroma of fallen leaves and pine needles. The spring rain smells quite good, fresh-cut summer grass is wonderful, then first winter snow is fantastic--but fresh fallen leaves are the best.
This fall, let us begin our garden projects by smelling the air around us, walking through piles of leaves, enjoying the rustling sound they make--and watching those leaves dance across the yard as the wind plays with them.
Most of us have had a killing frost by now, so let us clean the annual and perennial beds of the last few flowers that remained. Fall cleaning is very important because the removal of foliage from the garden also removes any remaining insect eggs or disease spores left on the plant that could infect the garden next spring. A clean garden now will get us off to a good start next spring and a fresh start without the insect and disease problems we had this year.
All this foliage should be gathered and put into the compost pile where it will rot and become rich organic matter for the garden next year. The compost pile will kill all the insects' eggs and disease spores left on those plants naturally. When the flowerbeds are cleaned, how about spreading some limestone on them to help sweeten the soil and lower the pH so the fertilizer you apply next spring can work better.
Remember, limestone does take six months to work in the garden, because it is STONE and the microbes will need time to break it down to where it will sweeten your soils. Apply in October and get results in April. If there is moss growing on your lawn apply Limestone to the lawn also, apply at the rate of one bag of limestone per 1000 sq. ft. When using a drop spreader, which is the rectangle-shaped spreader that drops the lime not through it all over your lawn, open the spreader wide open for proper dispersion.
The ground around fruit trees and flowering trees should be raked now of fallen leaves also to remove the problems we had this year with insects and disease. Disease spores will hide on those fallen leaves until the time is right to infect the new leaves that form on the tree in the spring. What happens is the disease spores become airborne when the weather conditions are right and float upward to the new foliage infecting them.
This cleaning in the fall will decrease the problems you had this year on next year's foliage. I also like to spray all my flowering and fruit trees in October while the weather is warm with All-Season Oil and Copper Fungicide to kill and disease spores and insect eggs that are on the tree. Repeat this spraying in March or early April and you will have fewer problems next year. If you have roses in your garden, spray them also at the same time and be sure to spray the trellis or fence they grow on if they are the climbing type, as insects will lay eggs on those also.
Plan a visit to your local garden center or nursery and purchase a bale of straw or salt marsh hay to help your roses or blue hydrangeas winter over. Supply is always limited, so plan and get it while hay is available. Place the bales in your garage or tool shed to keep them dry until the ground begins to freeze and then cover the plants for the winter. If you use the straw or hay now, you will have problems with mice or moles living in it before the ground freezes, so wait until the ground freezes and the rodents have found somewhere else to live for the winter.
Pick up Wilt-Pruf or Wilt-Stop to apply to new broadleaf evergreens planted this year or those plants exposed to winter sun and wind. These products called anti-desiccants and will seal the stems, foliage and buds of the plant preventing moisture loss during the winter, a real good investment for the winter. Wait and apply them around Thanksgiving, so plants have a chance to go dormant but get it now before you forget about it.
If you have deer problems, be sure to also pick up a good deer
repellent from Deer-Off, Bobbex or Shake-Way. Apply it also during Thanksgiving
and repeat between Christmas and the New Year for the best results. If the snow
gets deep, reapply in early February. Stock up now while it is on your mind and
keep your plants safe during the winter.
If your soils are heavy with clay, now is also a great time to break apart the clay in your soil and improve the drainage for next year with Garden Gypsum. Your carrots will grow longer, plants can make better roots because they can move through the soil easier and disease problems will less.
gypsum will help to prevent salt damage to plantings and grass on the side of
the road, if you live in an area where the snowplow pushes the snow filled with
salt and sand on your property. Garden gypsum will stick to clay particles preventing
them from sticking together and preventing good drainage and loose soils.
Apply Liquid Gypsum from Soil Logic now and it will have time to do the job before the ground freezes. garden centers will carry it, or order on line at www.soillogic.com. Be sure to apply to areas where you planted bulbs if your soils are heavy, to prevent the bulbs from rotting in the ground if we have a wet spring. Also, apply to lawns that had snow mold damage last year to prevent the problem from reoccurring again this winter. Liquid Gypsum is more effective than the powder type and works much quicker. Garden gypsum will also help to discourage moss growing in the lawn, because it removes surface moisture needed by moss plants to survive.
If you are beginning to see mole or vole activity in your garden or Lawn, NOW is the time to apply Mole Scram to the garden and lawn. Moles will move into the lawn now that the weather is cooling off. These rodents have been living in mulch beds, tall grasses and wooded areas during the summer for protection and now they are ready to take over your lawn, so apply the product now to keep them out.
If you had mounds of soil and zig-zag roadways eaten in your grass during
last winter and found in your lawn as the snow melted in the spring, you have
moles and you must treat the area now for the best results while the ground is
not frozen. Voles will move into perennial beds and eat bulbs, fibrous roots
and tubers during the winter. Such plants as lilies, daylilies, hostas, bleeding
hearts, irises, peonies and all spring flowering bulbs are in danger, as voles
are vegetarians and eat plants while moles eat grubs and worms.
One last garden chore for you this week--bring in any pottery type containers for the winter or the rainfall and snow will freeze in them and as the moisture expands in the containers, they will break or crack.
Clean the dead plants from them and store the containers in your tool shed
or garage. If you have no room for them place them under a deck, porch or up
against a fence or building upside down to prevent winter breakage.
If you have a birdbath that has a lip or edge on it to hold water bring it inside or turn it upside down also NOW. Fountains, like your bird baths, should be drained of all water now, the pumps brought inside and covered with plastic sheeting to prevent breakage, if not brought inside for the winter.
Do these little things now as winter has a way of creeping up on us--and before
you know it, our decorations freeze and break. Before you put them away for the
winter clean them of any green slime that has developed on them, as it will clean
up easier now than in the spring when it has dried.