Organic Gardening in an Urban Setting

October Checklist

   After a few hard frosts and the first light dusting of snow in your garden it is time to go to work.

  • The first thing to do is to collect any remaining seed from your garden, patio, or planter that you wish to grow next year. This is also the time to put in your orders for seed and gardening catalogues so you will have something to plan with over the long cold winter.

  • Next up would be taking your hardwood cuttings. This is the perfect time to take your cuttings to root for spring. Hardwood plants in our gardens are fruit such as currants, figs, gooseberries, and grapes.

  • Fruited canes such as raspberries and blackberries should be cut back at this time as these types of fruit only produce on the new growth which arrives each spring.

  • This is a fine time for dividing you perennials The only two perennial vegetables we grow in North America are rhubarb and asparagus. These and     your herbs are fine to divide now.
  • Tender herbs such as basil, or rosemary should be brought in and those you will leave out all winter should be deadheaded.
  • It's time to cover up your strawberries even though the ever bearing type may still be producing weak fruit. You can cut the trailers or children from the mother plants and bring them inside over the winter for a splash of colour in your home.
  • Now comes the work part of the list. With your seed saved, your cuttings made, your veggies and herbs divided, and your tender plants now living comfortably inside  your home or apartment it is time to dig up your beds. Turn over your soil to expose pests or any larvae and to turn under any fallow plot or high nitrogen crop such as peas or beans you may have grown late in the season to amend your soil. Leave this for a day or two and relax with a nice cup of herbal tea from your fall harvest.
  • This is the time of year to plant your bulbs. Garlic, onions, and leeks for instance would be planted at this time. Squirrels and other diggers will be searching your plot for these so it is a good idea to protect your bulbs from them. A small piece of chicken coop wire will work perfectly. The spring shoots will grow through it easily but digging paws will not. This is also a good place to put those thorny branches you removed from your fruiting canes earlier. These too will deter hungry critters from rooting out your bulbs.
  • With your perennials separated and your bulbs planted it is a good idea to mark them so that next spring you will remember their locations in your garden.

  Your composter...... You are composting aren't you? Now is the time to work on your compost. Remove any material that is ready to go and spread it over your nicely turned plot. It is unnecessary to turn this under. The frost and rain will do this for you and in the spring you will be turning your garden over again anyway. Turn your compost. This will help it speed up a bit as the cold of winter will ultimately stop it from working till spring if you live in a particularly frosty climate. 

   Your Garden tools.... You have neglected them all summer no doubt. This is the time to clean them with a little bleach and give them a good oiling. The bleach is to help kill off any diseases or bugs that have been living there since you cut off that powdery mildew on your tomatoes or dug up the white grubs eating your herbs roots. Rust is also a problem on your spades, hoes, rakes, and cutters. They should be cleaned and then oiled to preserve them. Clean out your wheelbarrow and disinfect it. It was carrying who knows what over the last while. Diseased tree leaves from the fall raking for example. Oil the wheel. The thing is probably hard enough to push without the wheel sticking. An easy way to clean and oil your tools is to put a bucket of sand with a quart of oil ,any type, mixed in. You finish with a shovel for instance and before you put it away just push it in and out of the sand a few times and you will have cleaned and oiled it all at the same time.

   Your garden shed.... You now have the time to clean and organize your shed for spring. Now is the time to set up shelves for next springs germination of seeds. Fix any windows or plastic that has torn over the season and Remove All Liquids such as rooting hormone or liquid plant feed. The cold will destroy most liquid fertilizers and many containers that these products come in will crack or break if frozen. Put up hangers for the new tools you bought over the season and organize and sterilize those pots you have been saving.

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