It’s time to harvest sunflowers: October garden calendar

It’s time to harvest sunflowers: October garden calendar


October garden chores can be challenging, but here’s a fun one: Harvest sunflower heads and use the seeds for birdseed or roast them to eat for yourself.

Here is the October garden calendar:



  • If needed, improve soil drainage needs of lawns before rain begins


Maintenance and clean up

  • Recycle disease-free plant material and kitchen vegetable and fruit scraps into compost. Don’t compost diseased plants unless you are using the “hot compost” method (120 degrees to 150 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Drain or blow out your irrigation system, insulate valve mechanisms, in preparation of winter.
  • Use newspaper or cardboard covered by mulch to discourage winter and spring annual weeds or remove a lawn area for conversion to garden beds. For conversion, work in the paper and mulch as organic matter once the lawn grass has died.
  • Clean and paint greenhouses and cold frames for plant storage and winter growth.
  • Dig and store potatoes; keep in darkness, moderate humidity, temperature about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Discard unused potatoes if they sprout. Don’t use as seed potatoes for next year.
  • Harvest and immediately dry filberts and walnuts; dry at 95 degrees to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Ripen green tomatoes indoors. Check often and discard rotting fruit.
  • Harvest and store apples; keep at about 40°F, moderate humidity.
  • Place mulch over roots of roses, azaleas, rhododendrons and berries for winter protection.
  • Trim or stake bushy herbaceous perennials to prevent wind damage.
  • To suppress future pest problems, clean up annual flower beds by removing diseased plant materials, overwintering areas for insect pests; mulch with manure or garden compost to feed the soil and suppress weeds.
  • Cover asparagus and rhubarb beds with a mulch of manure or compost.
  • Clean, sharpen and oil tools and equipment before storing for winter.
  • Store garden supplies and fertilizers in a safe, dry place out of reach of children.
  • Prune out dead fruiting canes in raspberries.
  • Harvest squash and pumpkins; keep in dry area at 55 degrees to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spade organic material and lime into garden soil, as indicated by soil test results (if necessary and the weather permits).
  • Prune evergreens.


Planting and propagation

  • Dig and divide rhubarb. This should be done about every four years.
  • Plant garlic for harvesting next summer.
  • Propagate chrysanthemums, fuchsias, and geraniums by stem cuttings.
  • Save seeds from the vegetable and flower garden. Dry, date, label, and store in a cool and dry location.
  • Plant ground covers and shrubs.
  • Dig and store geraniums, tuberous begonias, dahlias, and gladiolas.
  • Pot and store tulips and daffodils to force into early bloom, indoors, in December and January.


Pest monitoring and management

  • Remove and dispose of windfall apples that might be harboring apple maggot or codling moth larvae.
  • Rake and destroy diseased leaves (apple, cherry, rose, etc.), or hot compost diseased leaves.
  • Spray apple and stone fruit trees at leaf fall to prevent various fungal and bacterial diseases. For more information, see Managing Diseases and Insects in Home Orchards (PDF – EC 631).
  • If moles and gophers are a problem, consider traps.
  • Control fall-germinating lawn weeds while they are small. Hand weeding and weeding tools are particularly effective at this stage.
  • Monitor landscape plants for problems. Don’t treat unless a problem is identified.


Houseplants and indoor gardening

  • Early October: Reduce water, place in cool area (50-55 degrees Fahrenheit) and increase time in shade or darkness (12-14 hours) to force Christmas cactus to bloom in late December.
  • Place hanging pots of fuchsias where they won’t freeze. Don’t cut back until spring.
  • Check/treat houseplants for disease and insects before bringing indoors.