Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for October By Cynthia Brian
âDelicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.â George Elliot
Fall is back! Our local trees are changing their coats from various colors of green to yellow, orange, red, gold, and brown. The weather is still warm during the day with cooler nights, offering gardeners the perfect opportunity to purchase and plant their favorite autumn trees, shrubs, and natives from well-stocked nurseries. As children and teens prepare costumes for Halloween, pumpkin patches welcome family exploration. Our vegetable gardens take their final bow and itâs time to prepare the soil for winter crops. Garlic, onions, and cool season greens including lettuce, spinach, chard, and mustard along with beets, turnips, parsnips, and other root vegetable are ready to be planted. Itâs delicious autumnâand donât you just wishÂ youÂ wereÂ a bird?
- â« PRUNEÂ vines, summer perennials, berry canes, and cut back out-of-bound ground covers.
- â« AERATEÂ lawns and fertilize. Re-seed grass or install sod.
- â« PLANTÂ winter annuals in October as the sun is still warming our days. Selections include cinerarias, primroses, violas, pansies, cyclamen, and ornamental cabbage.
- â« ADDÂ an architectural texture to your landscape with the drought tolerant grasses such as Mexican Feather Grass, Red or White Fountain Grass, and Rattlesnake Grass.
- â« CONTROLÂ snails and slugs with bowls of beer, Slugo, or Deadline.
- â« EXTENDÂ the life of your Jack OâLanterns by coating the cut sides with petroleum jelly.
- â« TRANSITIONÂ indoor plants that you have summered on the patio to the inside by repotting if necessary. Clean the top of the soil, inspect for insects, dispose ofÂ dead leaves, and water thoroughly before placing in a sunny interior.
- â« PROTECTÂ tender plants from a frosty night by covering with a sheet, blanket, or other non-plastic material.
- â« TUCKÂ favorite spring blooming bulbs into your landscape beginning at the end of October through January. Dutch Iris and Daffodils are both deer and gopher resistant.
- â« DIVIDEÂ calla lilies, daylilies, daisies, and naked ladies every few years for best blooms.
- â« GATHERÂ pine needles from the base of pine trees to use as mulch around acid loving plants such as roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, fuchsias, camellias, and gardenias.
- â« BURSTSÂ of color for the autumn garden are found with plumbago, gerbera, society garlic, sea lavender, salvia, penstemon, and hollyhock.
- â« DEADHEADÂ roses weekly for continuous blooms until hard pruning in January.
- â« COLLECTÂ rose petals early in the morning to dry for potpourri and sachets.
- â« CUTÂ asparagus stalks to within 3 or 4 inches from the ground.
- â« CREATEÂ Pinterest boards or useÂ apps to help you keep garden design ideas handy. Start now to think about your spring wish list.
- â« RAKEÂ leaves to add to a compost pile or bin along with food scraps, egg shells, coffee grinds, tea bags, newspaper, and other organic matter. Within a few months, youâll have a nutrient rich amendment for your soil.
- â« IDENITIFYÂ trees youâll love to include in your yard by perusing a new book,Â Landscaping with TreesÂ by Scott Zanon.Â Even though it profiles trees for residential and commercial properties in the Midwest, most of the specimens grow well in our area including maples, buckeyes, crabapples, dogwoods, magnolias, and many more.
- â« REMOVEÂ leaves and fallen debris promptly from ponds and water features to keep the water clean.
- â« COLLECTÂ seeds from your nasturtiums, cosmos, zinnias, marigolds, dahlias, and other annuals. Allow the pods to dry in a paper bag. Store in a cool, dark, dry place (shed, garage, closet) until next spring.
- â« WATERÂ indoor plants once a month with a solution of 2 tablespoons of vinegar to a gallon of water to reduce salt build up and soil alkalinity.
- â« SCATTERÂ seeds of lupine, California poppy, bachelor button, and larkspur. Scratch the soil to cover the seeds, discouraging birds and squirrels from dining.
- â« KEEPÂ bird feeders full and fountains fresh as incentives for our feathered friends to become permanent bug eating residents.
- â« TRELLISÂ climbing vines. Potato vine, jasmine, honeysuckle, pink bower vine, and sweet potato vine make colorful, sweet smelling privacy screens.
- â« REDUCEÂ irrigation to once a week and once the rain begins, turn off your automatic sprinklers.
- â« PICKÂ up FREE seeds, potpourri, and garden book marks at the Be the Star You Are!Â® booth at the Moraga Pear and Wine Festival,Â Saturday. September 27 between 11-4pm.Participate in the story game and say hello to me. Sponsored by Lamorinda Weekly and Napa Valley Wealth Management.
- â« FERTILIZEÂ evergreen shrubs, vines, and conifers immediately if you didnât do so in September.
- â« ENCOURAGEÂ red-tip photinia to be dense and bushy by sculpting and maintaining a height and width of 6 to 8 feet. If you donât prune regularly, photonia become unmanageable twenty-foot trees.
- â« CHECKÂ olive harvests for grub and maggot larvae. Only treatment for this pest is a pheromone trap.
- â« SEEKÂ certified or experienced arborists to prune your favorite specimen trees. Remove a tree that has become too large for the space, intruding on foundations, or blocking views. Replace with appropriate sized trees, perhaps one that boasts autumn color.
Remember that fire season is still in full swing, so be cautious with outdoor grilling and open flames. Be vigilant about keeping a defensible perimeter around your property. Enjoy the final days of our Indian summer.
Happy gardening and happy growing!
Cynthia Brian is the producer and host of Star StyleÂ® Be the Star You Are!Â® Radio and producer of Express Yourself!â¢ Teen Radio brought to the airwaves under the auspices of Be the Star You Are!Â® 501 c3 charity. VisitÂ http://www.BetheStarYouAre.orgÂ andÂ http://www.StarStyleRadio.com