Wow, does it ever feel like the month of October just flew by! Garden chores aplenty kept me busy, busy, and here we are in November already.
The vegetable gardens are cleaned up and top dressed for the winter, feeding the soil throughout our wet winter, ready for me to plant up again in spring.
The perennial flower beds still await, however. I leave everything standing for as long as possible, to feed both the birds and the bees.
I attended a bee seminar in mid-October, and learnt that our native bees, here on the island, are actively feeding from February through the month of October. In fact, I saw some as recently as yesterday, buzzing around the pots of heather and mums.
The Anna's Hummingbirds stay here on the island year-round, so leaving perennials standing in fall keeps them supplied with both plant nectar, plus the insects they need for protein. If you feed your hummers in summer, please keep the feeders up all winter, too. They will be counting on that sugar water as a reliable and regular source of food, as they are used to feeding from it. Do not change the concentration.
What do I leave and what do I remove?
I clean out all the soggy and bedraggled flowers that are now finished, and no longer feeding anyone. Some will leave them till spring and then just rake them up, but if I have time, I like to clean up the really messy looking stuff now.
I leave my roses till late winter, the grasses and sedums, and any fall perennials that are either still flowering or otherwise look great.
I also leave standing any plants with hollow stems. This is new for me, I would usually have cleaned those out, but after attending the bee seminar, I understand that some of our native bees like to lay their eggs and overwinter in hollow stemmed plants. Perennials like echinacea (coneflowers), rudbeckia (black-eyed susans), sunflowers, beebalm, and more. They also like raspberry canes.
So, if you have not yet done your clean up, start from the top and work your way down. If you notice that the stems are hollow, or pithy (spongy), let them stay or just cut them back a bit, leaving the stalks about 8 to 10 inches tall. You will help increase the native bee population and create a pollinator haven in your own garden. Win-win for everyone.
What else to do this month...
Lift bulbs, tubers, and corms. You can leave your dahlias, glads, and whatnots in the garden beds, if you do not mind the thought of losing them should we have a harsh winter. If you cannot bear the thought, is best to lift them now, clean them up, and store for the winter. For a how-to on over-wintering bulbs, please click here!
This time of year is the best time to plant and transplant trees, shrubs, roses, and perennials.
Toss your tulips, daffs, and other bulbs into the garden and into pots for colour in early spring. Always so welcoming after a long, grey winter.
Prune ever-bearing (autumn) raspberries down to just a couple of inches high (unless you are leaving them for the bees, of course ; ) They should be fed with organic matter once a year, so in either fall or spring, top dress with a few inches of compost or manure. Summer bearing raspberries were cut back in late summer, after they finished fruiting, or are left till spring.
Rake up your leaves to use as mulch or to make into leaf mould. Do not leave them in a thick mat on the grass to smother your lawn. If you want to add organic material to your lawn, run them over with your lawn mower a time or two to shred them, and then they will break down nicely over the winter.
Leaves can be used as organic matter in your veggie beds. Dig them in, or toss them on top with the manure that you are top dressing with. The earthworms will turn it into garden gold. The leaves can also be used as a mulch for garlic, roses, and perennials, or to protect tender plants from hard frosts. Ideally, shredded leaves are better as they break down faster, but whole ones work great, too. I just rake mine into piles and let them compost down into leaf mould.
In the veggie garden...
Plant garlic very soon if you have not done so yet. Is still fine enough to plant, if you can find a dry day to work in the garden.
Mulch your carrots and parsnips with the shredded leaves you raked up. The tops will die down during the winter, after a few good frosts, but the roots will be just fine.
If you are just finishing up the garden clean up, don't forget to remove all weeds and debris that bugs can lay their eggs into, or over-winter in. Top dress with manure or compost to feed the soil. Weed the pathways, too.
Move your citrus trees into the greenhouse, under the eaves, or into the porch. For over-wintering information about all citrus trees, please click here!