Aw yes, the tenth month of the year and perhaps a winding down for many gardeners in Canada. The growing season has changed considerably over the past number of years, to the benefit of many gardeners, in particular those in the Midwest of the country. Conditions in general have seen escalating temperatures, in some cases to the extreme with abundant fires within rage of many communities. Other regions of the country such as the extreme south of Ontario, experienced huge amounts of rain along with the typical summer heat and humidity. All in all the season has been challenging for many, providing oodles of extra work one way or the other from extra irrigation to numerous lawn cuts. My gardens managed rather well as regular watering daily was provided during the excessive heat and my miniscule turf area, well, it was a different story. Turf of course takes copious amounts of water to endure summer heat, and under water restrictions the preference is to douse perennials rather than turf. However, in my home there is someone who enjoys a little bit of turf, so I endure (much sooner have more perennial ground covers, but alas).
As the weather cools down and the rains increase during this month, it is wise to trim the turf grass from around your trees. The reasoning here is that often times insects will over winter at the base of the tree under the protection of long grass and eventually, snow cover. Elm bark beetle, spring and fall cankerworm and several other nasty critters enjoy this refuge. On the subject of turf, many gardeners will apply a winterizing feed to the lawn which will promote strong root growth. Golf courses and large commercial turf expanses of course will benefit from this, but do you really need to apply the same procedures on your lawn at home? Consider the gradual replacement of turf with less thirsty perennial ground covers.
The retail outlets will still be bulging with spring flowering bulbs for sale and it is not too late to plant them. As a matter of fact, spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocus etc. can be planted right up until frost. These species will continue to form roots in the cooler weather until the soil has completely frozen. Remember that it is crucial to apply water throughout the month if precipitation is not a regular occurrence in your part of the country. Additionally, all shrubs and trees should be very well watered this month so as to provide a reservoir of moisture upon freeze up. This will ensure that in the early spring, when the sun begins to get stronger and the plants awaken, that ample moisture is available.
October is still a favourable month to move perennials from one section of the garden to another, or perhaps share with others. Again, watering is crucial at this time of the year to ensure root development and soil adhesion. Perennials that I have moved in the late autumn are always mulched heavily just after the first frost. This tactic protects the new installation from frost heaving and waiting to mulch after frost helps with rodent control. Hopefully they will have found a winter home elsewhere.
Enjoy the crisp October weather, it seems to make the garden work go that much faster as the waiting cup of hot chocolate or another libation is surely waiting indoors.
October 7th, 2018