In the Organic Garden: Week of October 2, 2017

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October 2 to 8, 2017—Finally, some rain! Plants have been drooping in unusually hot temps and dry weather, but a soaking rain should perk them back up. When the rain clears off, we’ll spend this weekend dividing and transplanting, and doing a thorough weeding.

Kitchen Gardens

In fruit and vegetable gardens, we’re

  • sowing the last of our winter crops. There’s still time for radish and mache (corn salad).
  • planting winter cover crops in any vacant areas. Winter rye or oats will help protect and return nutrients to the soil.
  • harvesting and eating or preserving raspberries, apples, carrots, salad crops, squash, beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and melons. Tender tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, and melons will be knocked out by frost, so enjoy their last few weeks of productivity.
  • harvesting pumpkins. Harvest as soon as your pumpkins achieve a uniform color and hard rind. You’ll want to leave at least 2″ on the stem and cure your pumpkins in a warm spot for a week or two to improve their shelf life.
  • cleaning up in the garden. Pull plants that have finished fruiting, remove withered fruit from trees, weed thoroughly, and rake particularly well under fruit trees and shrubs to prevent disease from overwintering.
Even in October, butterflies still find plenty to eat in a well-planned garden.

Butterflies are still flitting through the borders.

Ornamental Gardens

In pleasure gardens, we’re

  • planting shrubs, container-grown trees, and perennials. Fall is a super time for planting additions to the garden.
  • bringing in amaryllis and poinsettia that have summered outdoors. Both require a period of darkness before blooming again.
  • digging and dividing overgrown perennials. Dig them up, separate into sections, and replant each section into soil freshened with compost. Replant the outermost sections and discard the older, inner sections.
  • planting out fall annuals. Pansies planted in the ground this fall are likely to return and rebloom in spring. So plant a few in your newly cleared beds for a bright spot of late-season color.
  • mowing the lawn. Set the mower at 3.0″ to 3.5″.
  • weeding as necessary. 
  • turning the compost pile.

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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