Happy October! We’ve said goodbye to 90+ degree days and a few rains have fallen. It was a very dry and warm summer, but now it’s time to get ready for indoor activities and some basic outdoor maintenance tasks:
- Plant spring bulbs now.
- The end of October is usually the time that you can stop mowing, since when it gets cool enough the lawn will stop growing. Occasionally there is a fall when the lawn needs a mow or two into November.
- Great month to transplant.
- Bait for slugs during rainy periods. This will keep them from making more babies for spring!
- Keep leaves raked off lawn to prevent smothering/damaging the grass.
- Spread bark mulch now over any areas that may be exposed this winter. This will prevent erosion and keep weeds from growing.
- This is a wonderful time of the year to plant new plants!
- Mulch tender plants: fuchsias, cannas, dahlias, and callas.
For the more serious gardeners among us:
- Pick green tomatoes and ripen indoors if frost threatens.
- Pull and dry onions for storage. Keep at 32-35 degrees F, in a dry area.
- Harvest sunflower heads; use for birdseed or roast for a healthy, crunchy snack food.
- Dig and store potatoes; keep in darkness with moderate humidity at around 40 degrees F.
- Harvest squash and pumpkins as the month progresses; Place them in dry area at 55-60 degrees F.
- Harvest squash and pumpkins; keep in dry area at 55-60 degrees F.
- Harvest and immediately dry filberts and walnuts; dry at 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Harvest and store apples; keep at about 40 degrees F with moderate humidity.
- Spray peach trees for Coryneum blight with copper fungicides; spray cherry and prune trees for bacterial canker with copper spray.
- Dig and store these annuals; geraniums (Pelargoniums) and tuberous begonias if you do not want to have to purchase them again next year.
- Propagate chrysanthemum and fuchsia stem-cuttings.
- Dig and store geraniums and tuberous begonias.
- Plant garlic for harvesting next summer.
- Harvest the saffron from your saffron crocuses when they begin blooming late in the month.
- Begin manipulating light to force Christmas cactus to bloom in late December.
- Store any garden chemicals and fertilizers in a safe, dry place out of the reach of children.
- Clean and prepare the greenhouse for winter gardening activities.
- Bait and trap moles. This is a most challenging undertaking. I have learned that the most technique is using crushing tunnel line traps. Ugh!
- Rake and destroy the disease-infested leaves of apple, cherry, rose, keep the rest of the leaves as compost.
Here’s another herald of fall – we’ve wrapped up the harvest of our luscious Goji berries (Lycium barbarum). Gojis set little purplish blooms in summer and mature their fruit in mid-late summer and early fall here in the Willamette Valley. Apparently, the summer heat helps them to have a good fruit set. The fruit is sweet and mild tasting. It’s very easy to pick, and when they’re in full fruit the tall canes brighten up our garden with their hanging orange red berries. They remind me of small peppers, and in fact, as a member of the Solanaceae family, Goji berries are related to tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers.
The Goji is self-fruitful, which means it doesn’t need two varieties to set fruit. It also loves full sun, so survey your garden before planting. Avoid any shade at all.
The northwest Goji is from China and can grow in poor dry soil. I have found that it does not need much water in our climate; however, watering does help the fruit to stay nice and plump. like many berries, the growth does need to be staked. I prune out the canes that drape over to the ground in the spring, and tie them to a 10 feet tall pole for an eye-pleasing fountain of foliage. Since the tips of the canes seem to be where the fruit sets; tying it up works for me, since it allows the canes to hang down to where the berries can be easily reached for picking.
I find that Goji responds well to compost. Having a good surface mulch helps to hold in the compost and moisture, and keep down the weeds. I water deeply once a week or about twice a month in the summer. It is deciduous in the winter and looks like a giant witch’s broom. I do not think that the plant itself is beautiful, however a cane in full fruit is stunning!