Sunday, 5 October 2014

October Garden Ramblings

What to do in the month of October? 

Perk things up with fall planters... 

Add fall colour! 
Plant up or purchase lovely fall planters to place on your stoop, in the driveway, any place you can, to welcome in visitors and add a pop of fresh colour for the cooler months.

 Plant bulbs for spring! 
Plant now for spring colour! 
Love to see the waves of tulips and masses of daffodils in spring? This is the time to plant for that spectacular sight! Plant in clumps of 3 or 5 or more for an eye catching look, do not plant in single rows or you will have the look of soldiers lined up for parade.

Have a deer issue? Plant narcissus, crocus, alliums, muscari and fritilaria for deer and bunny resistant plantings. Tulips are a deer favourite!

Plant bulbs in pots now for doorway brighteners in spring.
Layer with daffs planted down at 7 to 8 inches deep, tulips at 5 to 6 inches and crocus or muscari at 3 inches. For pot plantings, you should pick bulbs that will all bloom at the same time for the best effect!



Harvest your peppers! Either compost your plants afterwards or spray them down well with soapy water and over winter.
A word of caution! My friend was just yesterday telling me her woeful tale of dealing with hot peppers and a painful loo experience. Please, please note that you must wash really well to get all the oils off your skin before touching any sensitive areas on your body like eyes, nose, mouth or before going to the loo. 

Remember that carrots and parsnips can stay in the ground all winter and be harvested as needed.

Potato tops can be cut back now to about 6 inches tall, leave in the ground for another week or two so that they develop good skins for storage. Lift the spuds and store in dark, dry, cool place.

Tomatoes ... if not yet ripe, I do not recommend bringing green tomatoes indoors to ripen as I find that the flavour is just not there. Instead make a lovely Chow Chow or Piccalilli with the green tomatoes. You will become a real lover of the green tomatoes, praying for a reason to pick them green! See the recipe that I use HERE!
For less than perfect ripe tomatoes, or too many tomatoes, give them a slow roast and then freeze for use in winter. Half or quarter tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and salt, herbs if wanted. Roast for 3 to 4 hours in the oven at a low temp, at about 250 F. Easy peasy! Tomatoes get sweeter, caramelised, roasting really brings out the flavours. Yum! I freeze them and pull them out to use on sandwiches, burr into a paste, add mayo and spread. Or add to soups, pastas or stews for a lovely flavour boost. 

Compost summer baskets and planters... 

General garden clean up
Lift and compost spent veggie plants, rake and remove any debris so that beds are clean and free of any diseased loose foliage and wilted veggies or flowers.

Top dress your cleaned up beds with manure or compost now for earlier start in spring. If your beds are in desperate need of nutrients, add as much as you can afford this fall, and then add more in spring, too. This is also a good time to add other nutrients like bonemeal, bloodmeal, alfalfa pellets, seaweed, etc... to break down over the winter months so that you are ready to plant in spring. 

Sow fall cover crops.

Pick mushrooms or brush off of lawns, and more... be very careful if you, like me, have a pup that likes to taste everything! Some mushrooms are extremely toxic to pets. 

Rake up leaves, run them over with the lawn mower to shred them up, and then top dress around your tender herbs or flowers. Can also be used to add browns to your compost or add organic material to your gardens.

Dump out your summer hanging baskets, pots and planters... I dump the soil into the raised beds and start with new potting soil each spring.

Dahlia tuber pic from

Lift Dahlia tubers, gladiolus corms, Canna's and Calla lilies.
Cut stems back to about 6 inches and lift out of the garden.
Brush off the soil, may even be washed with the hose to remove all the soil.
Lay out in a dry, warm place to dry for a week or two. I use a table in the greenhouse, but a furnace room, basement, sunroom, etc.. works well. Do not place directly on concrete floors, place some newspaper or cardboard underneath the bulbs.
When dry, trim off the stems plus all extra hanging on bits (like the smaller tubers hanging on), label with a sharpie and place in a box or ice cream pail of slightly dampened peat moss for the winter. 

Empty and clean out ceramic pots, planters, pots, baskets for winter storage.

Plant roses now. They benefit from being planted in fall as they have time to root in well for spring in cooler weather, with less drying out between waterings.  

This is also a good time to plant or move shrubs and trees.

Trim off any broken branches, long branches, or diseased or damaged limbs on trees, shrub, roses, etc... Do not prune yet, wait till November to prune.

 Bring in your potted tender herbs and flowers into a cold frame, greenhouse or the house.

Bringing tender plants in for the winter...
Spray first with insecticidal soap to kill any bugs that may be lingering, rinse with hose after 15 minutes. At this time of year, I like to rinse off the soapy residue as I do not want to leave additional film on the foliage as we head into a low light season. Also, the rinsing removes both dead bugs or live ones that may have been missed earlier. 

Plant more peas!

What To Plant This Month...
- sweet peas
- peas, spinach, lettuce, and onions can be grown under cover.
- radishes and kale


Garlic is planted before end month here on the island... or 2 to 3 weeks before ground freeze up everywhere else.

Clean, scrub and sweep your greenhouse to over winter your tender herbs, flowers, and citrus trees. I power wash with soapy water and hose out all the gutters, tracks, etc.. that tend to hold water and debris.

Moving Thyme

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