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.