Saturday, November 15, 2008

October in the Garden

October’s Objective – Putting garden to bed and Preparing for next spring. This means raking leaves, mowing the lawn and planting your spring flowering bulbs! October is still a great time to plant trees and shrubs, the ground typically wont freeze until mid December so plants should have several weeks of root growth before going completely dormant.

  • Spring Flowering Bulbs: if you haven’t made your selections yet, there are lots of good deals and places to get bulbs. The key to selecting healthy bulbs is to pick ones that have weight to them. Pick your bulbs as you would an onion or clove of garlic – meaty, not mushy or dry. And remember to augment your selection of Daffodils, Crocus and Tulips with other beauties. For easy April blooms try: Chionodoxa, Scilla and Muscari. For May to June blooms try: Alliums, Hyacinthoides, Leucojum and Eremurus.
  • And if you buy more bulbs than you can finish planting, remember to store them in a cold (not freezing!), dry location for the winter, like an unheated basement or garage. Then in the early spring you can pot them up and force them for indoor bloom.
  • Rake leaves early and often before they get matted and moldy, this can save a lot of headaches with your lawn. You can also grind the leaves and compost them with other plant debris, which is not diseased or infested with bad bugs. Remember thick mulch makes a nice cozy place for many pests to over winter, so if you had bad bug problems this past year (like the red lily beetle) clean out as much mulch and debris as you can.
  • Lawns should be mowed a bit lower than summer months 1 ½ to 2” grass height is ideal and remember to keep mowing as long as the grass keeps growing. Some years that will carry into December. Your lawn will also benefit from a fall application of fertilizer, giving it the carbohydrates needed to help survive winter.  
  • Now is a great time to fertilize trees and shrubs, especially if they did not get a spring application. Do not be tempted to prune them though, until after they are dormant. Pruning now will encourage new growth and instead you want them to save their energy for winter and next spring.
  • Start Amaryllis bulbs for Holiday blooms. Many species of Amaryllis take 8 weeks or so to bloom, be careful not to over water those bulbs while waiting for growth to start!
  • Clean, repot and bring in the last of your houseplants. Keep an eye out for freezing temperatures, but I leave my Christmas cactus out as long as possible to try to get it to bloom at Christmas (rather than Thanksgiving).  

Thank you to everyone who has sent in ‘Questions for Cory’, keep those great questions coming.

Q. My herb garden did really well this year and I have lots of Parsley and Chives left over. Can I bring the plants inside for winter use?

A. Some herbs like sage, parsley and chives can be harvested now and frozen. I like using little Ziploc bags for storage. Some herbs don’t freeze as well; I haven’t had great luck with Basil. But a friend of mine used to make a massive end-of-season batch of Pesto and freeze dollops of it in an ice cube tray for easy winter use. Also, if you have grow lights some herbs can be brought indoors for continued winter harvest. I have had luck with Rosemary, chive, lemon balm and mint. I am trying basil again this year and I’ll let you know if it is a success.

Questions for Cory?
Send to: Cory Landscape
PO Box 1059
Dedham, MA 02027

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