October Gardening Tips

An arrangement of flowers and tulips in front of a gardening store.
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October is a great time for planting pansies and purchasing spring bulbs. These gardening tips will help you get your garden ready for the cooler temperatures.

If you have reseeded the lawn, it will be important to keep the tree leaves from accumulating. A leaf blower would be gentler on the seedling grass than the rake. More specific gardening tips are included below.

Ornamentals

  • If you have hemlock trees, inspect them for signs of hemlock woolly adelgids. This is a good time of year to treat smaller trees with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Fall is also a good time to apply a systemic soil drench treatment on larger trees.
  • Plant pansies. Don’t be skimpy – they are small plants.
  • Purchase spring blooming bulbs. Plant late in October or in November.
  • Limit pruning of shrubs to sniping stray branches and removing dead or damaged stems.
  • Move house plants indoors before temperatures drop below 50° F. Start checking house plants for signs of insects so they can be treated a few times before moving back indoors. While you are at it, go ahead and give the plants a good bath with the garden hose, remove dead leaves and cut back long stems.

Fruits

  • There have been a lot of diseases in the gardens and orchards this year, making good sanitation especially important. As you rake leaves, also remove any fruit left in the trees and pick up all fruit from the ground.
  • Most blackberries and raspberries produce fruit on second year canes. An exception is ‘Heritage’ red raspberry, which will produce two crops each season if pruned in the traditional manner. But they can also be managed by simply cutting all of the canes to the ground in late fall to produce one larger crop in late summer.

Vegetables

  • Good sanitation is important here as well. Remove spent plants to the compost pile or turn them into the soil to rot.
  • If tomato plants were infected with late blight, it is best to destroy those plants by burying deeply or bagging them and sending them out in the trash.
  • Harvest pumpkins and winter squash before frost.
  • Spray all crucifers (cabbage family crops) with organic B.t. (Bacillus thruingiensis) every 7 to 10 days to kill the various caterpillars that eat the plants.

Other

  • Leave hummingbird feeders out for late migrating birds.
  • In addition to cleaning up the garden, fall is a good time to clean up the garden supplies. Pesticide labels will tell you how they should be stored for winter.
  • Clean and repair tools.

Tips partially provided by the Buncombe County Cooperative Extension.