Tuesday, 1 October 2013

October Ramblings and To- Do's

Stuff To Do This Month....

Strawberries -
Perhaps, you have been potting up your strawberry runners in wee pots? Or, maybe you have simply pinned them into place in the garden? You can now cut those new plants loose from the mother plants.
Or maybe you have dome nothing with them all season, and now have tons of runners all around your garden bed?

If your plants are younger than 3 years, remove the runners, add compost or manure around the mother plants, and you are set for lovely, huge berries in spring.

However, if they have fruited well for you for the past three years, now is the time to remove those mother plants and start anew with the runners.
After three years the berries will start to be smaller, misshapen, and dry, not as tasty, juicy or sweet as you would like.
If you plant them up now instead of waiting till spring, you will have great berries already next year.

If you have not pinned or potted up your runners earlier, you can still start a new bed with them this season.
Simply lift all the plants from the bed.
Cut the runners from the mother plants, set them aside, and toss those old mother plants into the compost bin.

Add compost or manure, all kinds of organic matter, into the bed and mix in.
Is best if you plant in a new location, but if you do not have that option, clean up all debris and foliage from the old plants.
You can now plant up those runners into the bed, about 1 foot apart.

Garlic -
Nope, am not saying anything more about garlic, lol, except that this is the month to plant in up.
Pick a nice day, am sure we will still get a few, and pop them in. For how-to's, please see the previous post.

Herbs -
Cover your tender herbs (basil, cilantro)  to extend the season ... make a cloche out of milk jugs or a tomato cage and clear plastic bag, cover with remay cloth, etc...
Cut back the crazy, overgrown, perennial herbs like sage, oregano, etc... and trim back the thyme, if needed.

What you can still plant this month ...
Kale (transplants)
Lettuce and greens can still be planted at the beginning of the month but should be covered or grown in your cold frame
Perennial herbs from transplants.

Harvest Time!

Onions - are ready to be lifted once the tops fold down... if they have not all done so yet, take the ones that have not and push the tops down to start the curing process.
If they have all toppled and your weather is dry and warm, simply pull them and leave them on the garden bed to dry and cure. If your weather is wet or cool, as it is here on the island, this year, lay them out single layer to dry and cure, in the garage, carport, basement... 

Fruits - apples, pears, plums should all be pretty near ready right about now or within the next couple of weeks. Do not leave them on the ground to rot. as this will bring in all kinds of pest and disease problems next year, like the apple maggot!
If you do not have time to pick them yourself, are unable to do so, or simply do not need the fruit this year, most communities will have volunteer gleaners who will come out to pick them and share the bounty with food banks and/or other folks who can use them.
I recently moved to a new home so my canning supplies are all in boxes somewhere. The yellow plum tree was in full fruit when I moved in and I had no way to deal with all this fruit this year. The ripe fruit was bringing in tons of wasps and would have made for a horrible smelly mess if left to fall and rot. Plus, is a shame to see that lovely fruit go to waste. I got some gleaners in and they picked the whole tree clean in no time at all and even left me some lovely plums for fresh eating. Win-win!

Squashes - Most all of your winter squashes should be ready to be picked now or very soon  ... pumpkins, butternuts, spaghetti's, patti pans, acorns, hubbards ...
They are ready when they have coloured up and when the rind/skin has hardened up ( so that when you push your thumbnail into the squash it does not easily punch thru but you meet with some resistance).
These guys will store well for many months, in a cool and dark area. Do not store directly on a concrete floor, place cardboard or newsprint under them.

Fall Peas are ready!
Pick the rest of your tomatoes and peppers this month...
Flowers to plant this month...
Violas an pansies
Sweet Peas!
Lavender (yes, is technically an herb, but smells great and looks great, so hey, why not)

Plant up you fall planters with sturdy plants that can withstand the wet, cool weather ....
Use mums, asters, pansies, violas, celosia, nandina, grasses, heucheras, ornamental cabbage and kale, sedum, snapdragons, and phormiums.

Plant Spring Blooming Bulbs ...
This is the time to plant up your pots with bulbs for spring colour, layering your daffodils, tulips and crocuses, maybe some muscari and squill, too.

You can also plant bulbs throughout your lawn to naturalise! Such a lovely sight in spring!

I like to add new spring blooming bulbs to my beds each fall, so that the impact is bigger and better each and every year, without breaking the budget. 

Plant your tulips, daffodils, crocuses, fritilarias, scilla, muscari, and alliums now!

Plant lilies now, too!
Bringing in Your Bulbs (Overwintering)
Dahlias, begonias, and gladiolus bulbs can all be lifted this month.

Wait till the foliage begins to brown and die back before lifting.
Cut back to 5 inches high.
Lift the bulbs, corms, tubers...
Clean off the worst off the soil and bring into an airy, cool, dry place to dry for a week or two. I like the furnace room or under a table in the greenhouse for this task.
Do not place on bare concrete, place on newsprint or cardboard.
When dry, check for any rot or mould, do not store those tubers as they will continue to rot.
Place in a box, paper bag, ice cream pail, etc... with lightly moistened peat moss or soil-less potting mix.
Store in a cool, dark place. Best if stored around 5 to 7 C (45 F). A cold room, a garage, or I pop mine under the tables in the greenhouse till spring.
Check a few time in winter to make sure that it is not too dry, mist if needed.
In spring, plant up again when you start to see new growth ( it will be white or light green and spindly)

Rose hips

Stop dead-heading now, this allows hips to form and tells the rose that it is time to start shutting down for the season. If you continue to dead head, it will continue to try to grow and bloom, and so may not survive the winter.

However, here on the west coast, you want to remove any soggy blossoms to prevent rot from setting in.

Pull off any foliage with black spot or powdery mildew on them, remove any fallen leaves, and clean up around the rose.

Towards the end of the month, cut back the rose bushes by about one third or to about 1 foot high. This will prevent breakage from any heavy snow falls or winds. Cut to an outward facing bud.

Remove any broken branches, dead bits, criss crossing branches .. the 3 D's of rose pruning, take out anything dead, diseased or damaged. Cut to an outward facing bud and keep an open vase form to the rose bush.

Put away yard ornaments for the winter. 

Other Garden Stuff To Do
Clean out your summer planters and pots. Wash with a 10% bleach solution to kill any lingering fungal, pest or disease issues. 

Dump the soil from the pots into your compost or onto your garden beds. Some folks like to keep their soil over and just add some compost to it in spring, however, I always dump mine. The nutrients have pretty much been completely depleted from the soil, plus might be harbouring pests or disease. Therefore, I dump the soil and start anew with fresh and fertile soil each spring. When dumped into the compost bin or garden, it does not go to waste! 

Lime your lawn here on the west coast. Is also a great time to de-thatch and aerate. Feed your lawn with a winter fertiliser and give it a mow. 

Clean up all your yard and garden ornaments and plant supports, put them away till spring.

Divide any perennials in need, share with neighbours and friends if you do not have space for all the 'new' plants.

Move trees or shrubs now that are planted in the wrong area or simply not thriving.


  1. thank you so much for my 'new' To Do list :)

    1. Hah! Sorry to be so long winded this month, it appears that I had lots to say this month ;) Happy gardening!


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