Home lawn and garden tips for the month of October, 2016 include practical and timely advice. Read this monthly resource for information on digging and storing summer bulbs, planting garlic, creating new gardens and beds, fall pruning, and more.
- Dig and store summer bulbs like caladiums, cannas, dahlias, gladiolus, and tuberous begonias. Wait until the first frost has hit before digging bulbs. Bulbs are best lifted when soil and air conditions are dry. Do not wash bulbs, simply brush excessive soil off with a rag and let dry on newspaper for a couple of days. Once bulbs and stems have dried, prepare them for storage; cull damaged bulbs that may rot. Layer bulbs in crates or baskets using peat moss or wood shavings. Caladiums, cannas, dahlias, and tuberous begonias should be stored at about 50˚F, gladiolus at about 40˚F.
- Plant garlic. Garlic is rewarding and easy to grow, and is available as both hardneck and softneck varieties. Hardneck garlic produces a scape, is easy to peel, and often more potent. Softneck is milder and produces more cloves per bulb. Single cloves should be planted about knuckle deep with pointed end pointing up. Plant in soil with high organic matter, about 6 inches apart in the row and about 12 inches between rows. Apply 3-4 inches of straw before the ground freezes to protect the cloves from winter injury. Garlic Growing Tips and Growing Garlic: Getting Started
- Take advantage of fall garden center and nursery sales - deciduous trees and shrubs can be planted until about Mid-October, if you have the capacity to keep transplants regularly watered until the ground freezes. However, wait until spring for planting needled and broadleaved evergreens. Don’t forget to water if dry weather patterns continue. Transplants will need the equivalent of at least 1” of water per week, provided in one deep watering as opposed to light daily sprinkling. For more details about fall planting and care, go to Fall Planting for Trees & Shrubs and Fall Planting, Successful Care
- Try to keep accumulating leaves off your lawn. Leaf accumulation prevents the lawn from receiving sunlight during this important time for lawn growth. Rake them off and compost, or use a mulching mower to mulch them in place.
- Have plans to create a new garden or garden bed next year? Do the bulk of the work now to make it easy next spring. Take a soil test and adjust pH, if needed ( Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory) . Remove weeds and undesirable plants. Plant a cover crop such as winter rye or oats to help build organic matter and reduce weeds. Oats is often preferred by home gardeners as it winter kills, making incorporation into the soil easier. Sow oats at about 2.5 - 3 pounds per 1000 square feet. Alternatively, mow the area of the future garden low, cover with several inches of compost topped with overlapping sheets of corrugated cardboard, then weight the cardboard down with wood chips. In the spring, plant thru the layers.
- Thinking about pruning? Hold off! Severe drought has impacted much of the state. Drought stressed trees should not be pruned because it can further slow recovery and make trees more susceptible to invasion by insects or disease. Only dead, broken, insect or disease infested wood or branches should be pruned at this time.
Written by: Russ Norton, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension
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