In the Organic Garden: Week of October 16, 2017

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October 16 to 22, 2017: Mild temps make this a great week to work in the garden! We’re harvesting fall vegetables, dividing perennials, and starting new beds using sheet mulch.

Kitchen Gardens

In fruit and vegetable gardens, we’re

  • preparing for the first frost. In central Indiana, the average first frost date is around October 14, although it looks to be later this year. Tender plants won’t make it through a frost, so harvest the last of those tomatoes now!
  • removing and composting spent, tender plants. Unlike most perennials and some tall annuals (which we leave up for wildlife), we remove spent vegetables and bedding annuals. Throw away diseased ones, instead of composting.
  • harvesting root crops, cole crops, and salad greens. These plants can be harvested late into fall, and even into winter if you give them some cover.
  • doing thorough weeding and cleanup around fruit trees and shrubs. Disease can overwinter in fallen fruit and leaf litter, so rake especially carefully around fruit trees.
The winterberry has formed berries and is beginning to change color.

The winterberry has formed berries and is beginning to change color.

Ornamental Gardens

In other parts of the garden, we’re

  • planting bulbs! You can plant until the ground freezes, but it’s much easier to get them in when the weather is cooperating.
  • digging and dividing overgrown perennials. When replanting perennials, discard the center section and replant the newer sections from the outer edge.
  • starting new beds with the sheet mulching technique. Beds started in fall will be ready to plant in spring.
  • reusing fallen leaves. A light layer of leaves can be mowed into the lawn. For thicker layers, we chop with a lawn mower, and then rake the leaves into beds to use as mulch.
  • weeding as necessary. 
  • cleaning up in the garden. Cut down and throw away (don’t compost!) any diseased plants, including peony foliage. Other plants can be left standing to create cover for wildlife through the winter.

Amy graduated from DePauw University with a degree in physics, a lifelong love of theatre, and a problem-solving style that combines the approaches from both those fields. A Master Gardener and long-time communications professional, Amy conducts gardening seminars and blogs about gardening in addition to her work with Spotts.

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