October 23 to 29, 2017: The first frost has come and gone, so we’re focusing on pulling out tender annuals and reusing fallen leaves in the garden.
In fruit and vegetable gardens, we’re
- removing frost-damaged plants. We can continue to expect frost each night for the next week. Tender plants are blackened and wilting from frost damage, so we’re removing and composting them. Throw any diseased ones into the trash instead.
- harvesting root crops, cole crops, and salad greens. Frost doesn’t hurt these vegetables, so you can harvest them as needed and leave the rest in the garden. Add a layer of straw or other mulch to keep these crops in the garden even into winter.
- removing and storing plant supports, like tomato cages and trellises, until next season. Scrub metal ones down with a 10% bleach solution before storing them.
- doing thorough weeding and cleanup of dead plants and fallen fruit. Be especially careful to rake out around fruits trees, which may be particularly vulnerable to fungal infections.
In other parts of the garden, we’re
- preparing for trick or treaters. Cut back any plants that might catch hold of costumes, and make sure the steps are well lit.
- planting bulbs. We like to get bulbs in before really cold weather arrives, although you can plant bulbs until the ground freezes.
- planting new gardens. You can continue to plant shrubs and perennials well into fall.
- ordering trees for planting. Deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves) are best moved or planted after they go into dormancy, right around this time. Dormant trees should be available for planting starting in November.
- cleaning pots that are not planted for late fall. Scrub them with a 10% bleach solution and let them dry before storing them for the season.
- chopping up leaves to use in the garden. If you grow fruit trees, be sure to start a pile of leaves to turn into leaf mould; you can use it around your fruit trees instead of compost.
- cleaning up in the garden. Cut down and throw away (don’t compost!) any diseased plants, including peony foliage. Leave other plants standing through the winter to provide cover for wildlife.