Gardening October 2020

From Mélie’s Garden

Fall officially arrived September 22nd, but it is always hard to believe on Fishers Island where the weather remains particularly beautiful and temperate. But never the less during October it is important to start “Fall Chores” in the garden.  The first thing I do is clean up the flowerbeds by cutting down browning foliage, if it looks at all diseased I put in large plastic garbage bags and not in the compost pile. I make notes to remind me of the changes in the garden that need to be made in the spring – a list of new plants to order or pruning that might become necessary. Transplanting can be done until November 1st, but it is risky to do after that date because the roots will not have enough time to become established before the ground freezes. I also write down the varieties of vegetables that did well this year, so that I have a list ready when I order seeds. I do the same thing with Dahlias that grew well.  These notes are very helpful to have when ordering plants and seeds in the winter or early spring.

Black SwallowWart  bagged – note seed pods

In preparing for the winter, it is important to get rid of invasive vines like Hedge Bindweed, Bittersweet and Black Swallow-Wart that may have invaded your flowerbeds.  Be sure to put those vines into bags and send them to the garbage. This is especially important if they have seedpods!

To establish good roots before winter, spring flowering bulbs should be planted this month. Daffodils, tulips and hyacinths need to be 5 to 7 inches deep, but smaller bulbs like snowdrops can be planted in shallower holes 2 to 3 inches. It is a good idea to put some mothballs in the holes with tulips to protect them from hungry animals, even a bit of fencing placed in a circle above them will help come spring.  I have a collection of circular wire cages that I place around venerable plants when needed.

Pumpkins waiting for Halloween

If you are lucky enough to have pumpkins in your garden and you want to preserve them for Halloween you need to dip the picked pumpkins in a mixture of a gallon of water and a T. of bleach. Then store them in a dry area that remains 50 to 60 degrees in order to hold the pumpkins for Halloween.

Houseplants should be brought in once the night temperatures are in the 60s. Be sure to look them over carefully for bugs and transplant them in to larger pots if they have grown a lot over the summer. Spray the plants with Insecticidal soap to get rid of unwanted bugs before they come into the house. You can make a homemade soap spray using 1/3cup of liquid soap, 1TBS of baking soda mixed in a gallon of water. Other houseplants like Bougainvillea, Camellia, Clivia, Geranium, Jasmine and Plumbago can remain outside until the nights are 45 – 55 degrees, but they also need to be sprayed before coming in the house.

Once your fall chores are completed, it is time to relax inside and view the interesting garden biweekly webinars The Garden Conservancy is presenting this fall – go to to join and hear expert gardeners share their wisdom.

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