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October Gardening To-Do List

The colder months are coming!

Prepare your vegetable garden with this list of things to do during the month of October. Find your zone and start tending to your garden. Locate your zone here.

Zone 1

  • Finish planting bulbs early in the month.
  • Cover your compost pile to make sure it stays warm and working
  • If you are planting container-grown trees and shrubs, finish the task this month.
  • If you are going to plant needle-bearing evergreens, do it early in the month.

Zone 2

  • Start protecting your roses for the winter. Hybrid roses can be covered with leaves or straw to protect against changing temperatures.
  • Minimize feeding houseplants; stop feeding dormant houseplants

Zone 3

  • Start your compost pile for the Fall
  • Start covering/protecting perennials, bulbs, vegetables and strawberries for winter.
  • Minimize feeding houseplants; stop feeding dormant houseplants
  • Start protecting your roses for the winter. Hybrid roses can be covered with leaves or straw to protect against changing temperatures.
  • Cut back tender roses to 10-12 inches. Prevent insects and diseases from wintering over by removing all foliage.
  • Divide and replant crowded fall-blooming bulbs after their leaves have turned yellow
  • Start harvesting late vegetables still in the ground like parsnips and sweetened turnips after a light frost.
  • Water roses, shrubs, trees and perennials before the ground freezes hard.
  • Clean up the garden of debris before the first snow falls.
  • Harvest late apples.

Zone 4

  • Start your compost pile for the Fall
  • Start covering/protecting perennials, bulbs, vegetables and strawberries for winter.
  • Start planting winter and spring flowering bulbs.
  • Divide and replant crowded fall-blooming bulbs after their leaves have turned yellow
  • Minimize feeding houseplants; stop feeding dormant houseplants
  • Sow frost-tolerant perennial plant seeds
  • Start protecting your roses for the winter. Hybrid roses can be covered with leaves or straw to protect against changing temperatures.
  • Either heavily mulch the last of your root crops like beets and carrots or harvest them and store them in a cool place where they won’t freeze.
  • Start planting shallots and garlic.
  • Over vacant beds, sow a cover crop i.e. winter rye
  • You can still plant potted trees and shrubs.
READ  Garden To-Do List for December

Zone 5

  • Start your compost pile for the Fall
  • Start planting winter and spring flowering bulbs.
  • Divide and replant crowded fall-blooming bulbs after their leaves have turned yellow
  • Minimize feeding houseplants; stop feeding dormant houseplants
  • Sow seeds for frost-tolerant perennials
  • Start protecting your roses for the winter.
  • Start collecting leaves for your compost.
  • Clean up the garden of fallen debris to reduce pest and disease problems.
  • Work compost or manure into asparagus beds.

Zone 6

  • Start your compost pile for the Fall
  • Start planting winter and spring flowering bulbs.
  • Divide and replant crowded fall-blooming bulbs after their leaves have turned yellow
  • Minimize feeding houseplants; stop feeding dormant houseplants
  • Sow seeds for frost-tolerant perennials
  • Start protecting your roses for the winter.
  • Sow cold-tolerant greens like spinach under row covers or cold frames
  • Invest in frost protectors to help extend your vegetable harvest.
  • Start cleaning up the garden of debris to clear it up before the first snow fall
  • Keep planting spring-blooming bulbs, shrubs and trees
  • Compost leaves (shredded), last grass clippings and spent plants

Zone 7

  • Cover vegetable, bulb, strawberry and perennial beds for winter
  • Pre-chill hyacinths and tulips for indoor forcing
  • Minimize feeding houseplants; stop feeding dormant houseplants
  • Start cleaning your garden and clearing it of debris
  • Start sowing seeds for frost-tolerant perennials
  • Start protecting tender plants from frost
  • Thin turnips, radishes and carrots then cover beds with an inch of compost.
  • Dig your sweet potatoes; if you leave them under the ground, winter rains will make them split and rot
  • Continue planting onions; set out garlic cloves
  • Sow late spinach; it will overwinter and continue growing in the spring
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Zone 8

  • Minimize feeding houseplants; stop feeding dormant houseplants
  • Start sowing seeds for frost-tolerant perennials
  • Plant more beets, carrots, Chinese cabbage, cress, garlic, lettuce, onions, radishes, shallots, spinach and turnips
  • On vacant beds, sow a cover crop i.e. winter rye, Austrian winter peas or purple vetch
  • Speed up the breakdown of Fall leaves by adding rye clippings to your compost pile

Zone 9

  • Plant or transplant of cool-season or winter vegetable seedlings
  • Start sowing seeds for cool-season or winter vegetables like corn salad, radishes, spinach and mustard.
  • Harvest your sweet potatoes after their tops wither but before the first hard frost.
  • Harvest your peanuts, pumpkins and winter squash before frost
  • Clean up your garden and get rid of debris
  • If you are using garden debris in your compost, build a hot pile to kill pathogens lurking in the debris. Make use of nitrogen-rich material like seafood shells and grass clippings.

Zone 10

  • Start planting winter and spring-blooming bulbs
  • Start seeds for cool-season or winter vegetables
  • Set out transplants of eggplants, peppers and tomatoes
  • Water well and mulch; dry spells during October can last longer than a week
  • Plant brassicas – except Brussels sprouts – in the start of the month, also strawberries.
  • Direct seed root crops and beans in mid-October.

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