October Gardening Calendar
This is a once-a-month column provided to Wilson County News reader online.
“October Gardening Calendar”
There are still probably some of the larger Surefire and Roma tomatoes at area nurseries if you want to try and make a crop of tomatoes for fall. If they are planted this late they certainly will need to be protected from the first frost. Be ready to place agricultural fiber (N Sulate and others) on the tomato cage when temperatures below 36º F are forecast.
Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts transplants can be planted now. The broccoli and cabbage will be ready to harvest before Christmas. New heads will form on the broccoli after the first crop is harvested.
There is still time to plant carrots, rutabaga, beets, turnips, collards, mustard, radishes, and chard by seed.
Fall vegetables need to be fertilized generously. Apply one cup (1 lb) of winterizer lawn fertilizer per 50 square feet of bed before planting and add a cup every three weeks.
The cole crops are susceptible to cabbage moths. Have your Bt or Spinosad ready as soon as you see the first looper.
If you planted green beans in September, apply Sevin or Malithion to control flea beetles. The squash vine bores and squash bugs will be attacking your summer squash and other cucumbers. Since Thiodan is no longer available try Spinosad or Sevin applied at the growing point twice per week.
In the flower garden it is time to plant snapdragons, stock, calendula, alyssum, ornamental cabbage, ornamental kale, dianthus and nasturtiums. Petunias do not have as much cold tolerance as the annuals listed above but VIP, Laura Bush, Carpet, and Wave have a good chance to survive the winter cold. Plant nasturtiums as seed but the others do best as transplants.
My favorite snapdragons are Rockets. They are tall (36 inches) with intense color including red, purple, blue, yellow, pink, white, salmon, and orange. They make good cut flowers.
Rockets do best when they are planted en masse so they support each other. If you plant them in containers, support them with one of the aluminum tomato cages.
In my opinion stocks have the best fragrance of the winter annuals. They are very pleasant when used as cut flowers. Alyssum and nasturtiums also are fragrant.
October is a big rose blooming month. Keep the blooms protected from thrips and beetles with acephate, and the foliage protected from black spot with triforine. Organic garderners can try Neem oil, sulfur products and Spinosad.
Wait until late in October or even November to plant pansies, cyclamen and primula. They all are vulnerable to early autumn heat waves.
We normally fertilize our lawn on or about October 1st. If it is still dry and/or your lawn is in very tough condition it may not be useful to fertilize.
If the lawn is green and you can irrigate or if the rains have returned, apply a “winterizer” brand fertilizer such as 18-6-12 at a rate to provide one pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet. The bag should tell you the recommended rate.
The same thought should go into the decision about applying a pre-emergent herbicide. If your lawn is very stressed from drought, forego the herbicide.
This is the best time of the year to divide spring blooming perennials. Iris, daylilies, phlox, shasta daisies, and German carnation all benefit from thinning out.
Resume you bird feeding this month if you took a summer break. Sunflower seed is the favorite food for most birds including cardinals and chickadees. Use safflower seed to attract most of the same birds without the squirrels. You can also discourage squirrels by using a metal feeder with a weight sensitive perch. They also allow you to exclude white winged doves. Suet blocks attract the insect eaters including wrens, kinglets, woodpeckers, and even some warblers. Thistle seed is the best for goldfinches.
It is time to plant wildflower seed. Apply it to sites in full sun where the seed can reach the soil. It will not germinate in sod or in the shade. Your favorite nursery may have wildflower seed or you can get it on the internet, visit (www.wildseedfarms.com), or (www.americanmeadows.com). Both companies respond quickly to internet orders.