Tim's Weekly Column
October 4, 2018
Well, it’s officially October. Time to get into the fall mode of gardening.
October is the month when temperatures can begin to feel cool. It wouldn’t be out of the question to start the month warm and wind up with the kids dressing in heavy coats in order to be warm enough for Trick or Treat. With this in mind you want to get your fall gardening plans in place.
The conventional wisdom has always said that you need to have your grass seed in place by the end of September. The new school of thought is that you should get your grass seed sown by the second week in October. Based on the unknowns of the weather, the sooner the seed is down the better chance you have at getting a lawn established this fall. If you have a crystal ball that says that the temperatures are going to stay warm into November than take a chance. Many years, the real cold and even the ground freezing can begin in early November. How lucky are you feeling?
October is also the month when the winter type fertilizers are put onto the lawn. You can probably wait until later in the month to do this application of fertilizer. However, once the leaves begin to fall it is hard to make sure that you are getting the fertilizer applied evenly all over the lawn. If you put down the fertilizer over the leaves and you then turn around and use a leaf blower to remove the leaves, you just may wind up with the fertilizer being taken up with the leaves.
If you have some room in your vegetable garden, fall is a good time to set out some garlic cloves. By planting the cloves in the fall, you can be harvesting full size garlic next summer. The key to success is to use either organically grow garlic or to buy garlic that has not been treated to inhibit sprouting. Much of what you would get in the supermarket has been treated to prevent the garlic from sprouting. This, of course, makes for a poorly performing planting. Each fall, our store brings in garlic that is grown for fall planting. You separate out individual cloves and plant them in the ground. Once they are rooted, they may put up some top growth if the soil stays warm late into the fall. You can cover the sprouts with straw and come the spring, you just pull the straw back and let that garlic grow.
We have been getting a fair amount of rain this fall. The adequate rainfall means that you don’t have to spend time watering your shrubs. Your broadleaf evergreens i.e. rhododendron, holly, boxwood etc take up a lot of water in the fall and store that water in the leaves and stems. This stored water helps the plants to survive the harsh and dry winter winds. If Mother Nature does shut the faucet off, you should be watering each week until the ground freezes in the late fall. In most years it is the dry winds of winter that kill the shrubs by drying out the leaves and stems of the plants.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll be talking to you again next week.