Here are the things to do for your garden in October. Taken from the Ontario Master Gardener Calendar by John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario. For more information, or your own copy of the 11” x 17” calendar of the full year’s tips, for a $1 contribution to Master Gardeners, call 519-599-5846.
- After a warm summer, 2 more weeks of summer in September, fall is definitely here with the nightly risk of FROST.
- There is an annual argument among gardeners as to whether you should cut back your perennials, grasses, etc., in the fall, or leave them long for “winter interest”. However, up here, most perennials are covered by 2 feet of snow, so you cannot see them anyway. Since Spring Clean-Up can be daunting, there may be wet weather, or a late spring like this year. For these reasons, this fall I am opting for a BIG FALL CLEAN-UP to get a jump on spring 2021.
- It is time to trim back perennials and divide them as needed for your garden, or to give to your neighbors. Make sure it is a cool cloudy day and fertilize with a “transplant fertilizer”, like Bone Meal, with a big middle number.
- Buy and plant spring flowering bulbs. Add a little bulb fertilizer, like Bone Meal-one with a big middle number for lots of Phosphorus (P). Your efforts now will bring big dividends in April and May 2020.
- For a longer bloom season, plant a variety of bulbs, not just tulips & daffs. Also, plant early, middle and late blooming tulips and daffs for a much longer season.
- Place chicken wire just under the surface of the soil over any tulip bulbs you plant. The squirrels will hate you. Daffs should not need this protection.
- Divide and plant your perennials and evergreens, and/or buy new ones. Early October is a great time to plant perennials.
- If there is an early frost warning, cover tender annuals overnight with an old bed sheet. They should make it through and keep on blooming.
- Bring in house plants when the evenings start to cool down, or you get a frost warning. Give them a thorough spray first with insecticidal soap, so that there are no unwanted hitchhikers coming into your home.
- Fertilize lawns with a low “first” number and high “middle” number “Fall” formula. The Phosphorus promotes root growth.
- Start cutting your grass much lower than in summer to avoid winter matted long grass next spring.
- Water shrubs, evergreens and trees weekly and deeply, at least until frost.
- Buy the Triple-19 fertilizer now, so you will have it to put on the snow that will be covering your perennial gardens in March. The Co-Op may not have any in stock before the snow disappears. It is available now at the Markdale Co-Op for $23.50 a bag.
John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario