October is here! Finally! While everyone else is laying out the pumpkins and trying to decide between tricks or treats, you’re getting ready to finalize your cool weather plants for your garden and your outdoor plants.
It’s time. Even the deep south is cooling down at night and by the end of the month, much of the country will have seen its first frost (or will be getting close to it). Let’s lay down our rakes, enjoy the pretty fall colors, and settle in for a chat about those last-minute decisions with a warm apple cider.
Fall and Early Winter Planting
As we all know, the garden is never actually dead. Even during the coldest part of winter, when everything is hiding beneath the soil, there is still something happening out there. Whether it is beneficial bugs crawling around and aerating everything around them or if it’s carefully covering everything with leaf litter to allow your acids to break down; your garden is still hopping.
That said, a great many people are taking advantage of typically unseasonably warmer winters these days and continuing to plant deep into September and maybe even October.
If you’re one of these people, you’ll want to have your alliums, herbs, and greens already in the ground by the first week of October. Any later and you’re very likely to lose some tender plants to that first frost or see some longer grow cycles. Those of you over-wintering alliums (garlic, onions, etc) know what I’m talking about. If you’re using a straw bale method, wrap those bales tight (but keep the top and bottom open for drainage). If you’re in-ground or potting, this is a good time to go ahead and insulate those young plants with a layer or two of mulch or using pot wraps.
For those gardeners who enjoy flowers over fruits and vegetables, this is your time to shine. We all know that fall is the best time to go ahead and get those spring blossoming bulbs in the ground, but you may have been caught unaware this time around: after all, it seems like this year has just flown past.
If you’re getting ready to start planting your bulbs, we’re sure that you’ve amended your soil for them or that you’ve had beds ready since late spring. After all, bulbs are often picky and finicky about their soil requirements and you’ll need to meet them to get those perfect blooms.
If you haven’t, there’s no need to worry. Last-minute preparations are acceptable for most bulbs.
Additionally, if you’ve never planted bulbs before, this is a great time to start. Pick up a few pretty flowers (make sure they’re pet-safe or in a pet-free area if you have dogs or cats), plant them around your usual garden plots, and enjoy. Many early to late spring bulbs are great at attracting pollinators for your early fruiting plants. I usually put my bulbs along our hanging strawberry plants just to encourage as many pollinators as possible.
Keeping Your Herbs Comfortable
Your herbs are probably going to get a little cold (unless they’re rosemary) this season and I strongly recommend giving them a cozy layer of mulch around their root base. This not only protects them from winter waterfall rainstorms but also helps them keep some of that daytime sunshine warmth deep within the ground.
I’m talking about mulch so much because it’s an often overlooked step for newer gardeners. Sure, many people use it for its looks alone, but it really does have benefits. Think about the way plants grow in the natural world: leaf litter, natural mulch, and so forth keep the roots and seeds of plants warm enough to grow next season.
For your herbs and your perennials, you’ll want to do the same thing. I’m trying to mimic what they would experience naturally even if they’re a type that humans have created through preferential breeding. They’ll give you their best if you give them just a little extra insulation.
This is the best place you can store your meat long-term. Many of my friends built it quickly right before winter and started storing their cans, veggies, eggs, etc in there.
There’s likely little to be done around the house except for one thing: meat preparation. Perhaps you’re a hunter and you’re bringing in plenty of game. Perhaps you’ve seen your hay bill and nearly had a coronary over it, deciding to cut back and either take animals to an auction or to market.
Either way, there are likely to be some decisions in the next few weeks that may leave you feeling a bit tired or maybe even sad if you haven’t done this before. Worry not! Whatever you decide to do, remember that this is simply part of the great cycle of the seasons and life itself. Enjoy your venison, chicken, pheasant, lamb, and anything else you put in your freezer. You’ll be very happy you did so over the cold months as your slow cooker warms up wonderful stews and roasts for you and your family.
There is a small possibility, itty bitty in fact, that you’ve let a few things go until the last minute.
Now, of course, I don’t know anything about that. No, no, don’t look outside at the zucchinis ten feet long still on the vine or the goats that just got their buck placed in the pen with them.
Yeah, even I have a tendency to put things off if I have other events going on. It happens and we’re all guilty of it. The thing is, this is your last month to catch up before parts of the country really start seeing snowfall and those winter temperatures lock-in. It’s cooler now; get on your feet and get your checklist checked off!
And tell us down below some of the things that you’re putting off until Halloween looms on your calendar. We’re all doing it; let’s admit to it and share a laugh with each other. And remember, as always, Happy Gardening and we’ll see you in November with some tasty recipes, cozy reminders, and a whole bunch of fun new tips.
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