By W. Alan Bruhin
- Weed your garden one last time. Eliminating weeds now may prevent problems next spring.
- Plant spring-flowering bulbs in late October and early November.
- Collect wildflower seeds. Sow them now or early next spring.
- Plant winter annuals like pansies, violas and snapdragons for a show of color until spring.
- Winter-hardy herbs like parsley, thyme and rosemary make good container companions with winter annuals.
- Cut back withering perennial blooms and add fresh mulch. Follow mulching with a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent winter weeds.
- Plant mums now.
- Keep your grounds raked clean of leaves and debris.
- Renew your tall fescue lawn. Nitrogen-containing fertilizers can speed grass growth, thicken the lawn and improve its color.
- Seed and mulch bare areas to control erosion and reduce weed problems.
- Core aerify your lawn to help water and nutrients move into hard soils.
- If your lawn is thin and you intend to seed, a power rake can lift thatch and expose soil before planting.
- It is best to seed lawns by mid-October, but fertilizer can be applied as late as mid December.
- Plant apple trees now. Select disease-resistant varieties.
- Clean around fruit trees. If diseases or insects wiped out your fruit crop this year, destroy fallen fruit and remove fruit that has mummified on the tree to prevent an early attack next year.
- Consider using a home fruit spray schedule, available from your local UT Extension office.
- Harvest pumpkins, summer squashes, and gourds before the first frost.
- Keep harvesting cool-season vegetables. Frost actually enhances the flavor of parsnips, Brussels sprouts and kale. Dig and divide congested clumps of rhubarb.
- Mulch root crops such as carrots, onions, and parsnips to keep the ground around them from freezing. They can be dug up as needed during winter.
- Plant individual cloves of garlic for a crop next summer. Very large cloves produce the largest bulbs. Plant them 6 inches deep and at least 6 inches apart, and mulch after the ground freezes.
- Plant a cover crop of clovers, cowpeas, soybeans, or vetches over your summer garden to plow under next spring. These nitrogen-producing plants provide good organic matter and nutrients for next year's garden as well as help to control weeds over the winter.
- Start a compost pile. Fall is the ideal time to start composting. Use gleanings from vegetable and flower gardens, grass clippings and fallen leaves. Your local UT Extension office has information on how to compost.
Odds and Ends
- Plant trees and shrubs. Keep watered until rainfall picks up in November and December.
- Store amaryllis in a cool spot (40 to 50 degrees) for a two-month rest. Begin watering again 9 to 12 weeks before you want it to flower.
- Place Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus in an east or north window. Fertilize them once more. Let them dry out more between waterings to help stimulate blossoms.
- Provide migrating birds food for their journey. You might persuade a few to stick around if they know they have a reliable food source.
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