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October 2018, Week 5

5 years ago
last modified: 5 years ago

We enter the final week of October and, actually, begin November too, all in the same week.

This is the gorgeous October weather we've been waiting for throughout all the heavy rainfalls. (Apologies to those of you who are being missed by the rain---your turn will come around again, hopefully soon.)

High temperatures in the 80s this late in October seems like a pretty nice way to end the month. It is unfortunate that for most of us, colder weather and rain arrive just in time to mess up Halloween for the kids.

This week's chore list is fairly brief, but mid-autumn is a good transition period, so there are tasks you can be accomplishing in the garden:

--Mow the grass as conditions allow. If you want, you can catch your grass clippings and dump them on your garden as an extra layer of winter protection for plants. You can do the same with autumn leaves. We tend to mow up autumn leaves and catch them in the grass catcher when we're mowing at this time of the year, though there's not a lot of leaves falling yet.

--If you have cool-season grasses like fescue or winter rye grass (perennial or annual) and if you are the type who likes to fertilize them, now is a good time to do that while the ground still is fairly warm.

--Dead veggie, annual flowers and perennial foliage can be clipped back at the ground level without disturbing the soil or perennial roots unless you need to remove the dead veggie plants in order to fill their spot with winter color.

--It is not too late to plant garlic or shallots if you have not yet done so.

--Once your asparagus foliage has turned brown (mine hasn't yet), you can clip it off just above the soil level and put it on your compost pile. After I do that, I like to pile chopped/shredded autumn leaves and/or compost on top of the asparagus bed. This helps keep winter weed seeds from sprouting there in the asparagus bed.

--If you haven't had a frost or freeze yet and have plants in containers that you intend to overwinter indoors (greenhouse, garage, shop building, inside the house, etc.), it is time to be pruning those plants back if necessary and moving them close to the house so you can quickly move them indoors if your forecast deteriorates and it seems like your first really cold night is arriving earlier than you expected.

--Be on the lookout for insect invasions as various small critters decide that want to spend the winter indoors with you. For the last two days, we have had thousands of Asian ladybugs climbing all over our south-facing and west-facing walls, trying to come indoors. It is extremely hard to keep them out unless you use a perimeter spray on the exterior of whichever structures they're attempting to invade. We've never done that to keep the ladybugs out, but I'm thinking this year we might need to. There's so many of them and I'm already finding a few in the mudroom. Some of them actually landed on Tim and bit him while he was mowing Saturday afternoon, so he is in a very anti-Asian ladybug mood at the moment.

--If you've been wanting to plant or to transplant trees and shrubs, now is a great time. By planting or transplanting now, you're giving the tree or shrub roots all of autumn, winter and spring to recover from being planted/transplanted and to make good root growth before the next round of summer heat arrives in 2019. Some stores here have fresh stock of fruit trees on hand now for fall planting, and others have clearance sales of whatever summer merchandise they still have in stock.

--You can plant daffodils, jonquils, grape hyacinth and narcissus bulbs now.

--If you want to plant tulips or dutch hyacinths for blooms in late winter/early spring, they will need a period of pre-chilling in a refrigerator set at least at 45 degrees. They need to be pre-chilled for at least six of seven weeks, so if you buy some bulbs and start chilling them now, then you can plant them in mid- to late-December or even in early January. Some stores sometimes carry pre-chilled tulips and Dutch hyacinths, and will have them labeled as such.

--It is not too late to plant cool-season annuals or perennials for winter color: pansies, the related violas, dianthus (some are annual, some are perennial here), and ornamental cole family plants like ornamental kale and ornamental cabbage. Oh, and I wouldn't hesitate to plant kale plants from transplants if I stumbled across them in the nursery or garden center in October. Kale usually overwinters for me fine in southern OK---I am not sure if it does for those of you who are a lot farther north.

--Watch for snakes, especially venomous ones. They're still out soaking up heat on concrete and asphalt on warm autumn afternoons, evenings and mornings. Babies that were born in late summer or early autumn can be pretty hard to spot due to their small size, but their venom can be lethal and, because they are young and inexperienced, they often inject a lot more venom than adult snakes do.

Have a great last week of October. Y'all know that when November arrives, we usually start getting quite a bit colder and the freezes and frosts become more common. I feel them coming for our plants soon......


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