As leaves start to blaze with autumn color, it is time to do fall garden chores. Northwest gardens have different chores than other regions of the states. October gardening tasks must include yard clean up and winterization. Having a garden to-do list can help you remember all the tasks necessary to put your garden to bed for the winter.
Making a Garden To-Do List
It’s always sad to see the gardening season end, but who has time to mope? There are numerous tasks to be done to get the garden ready for winter and spring. October gardening tasks wrap up the season and help prevent bugs and fungal issues later. The month may have warm or freezing temperatures, or even snow. You just never know in the Northwest, so it’s best to be prepared!
Gardening in the Northwest is a challenge because of the large mountain range and coastal influences on climate. Then add in the potential of a La Nina or El Nino and things can really change. Northwest gardens in fall can experience it all, from mild to extreme cold. So, it’s important to have a list of tasks that will protect your plants from anything Mother Nature throws at you.
Not only do you need to protect plants and finish cleaning up the garden, but it is a good time to clean and sharpen tools, organize a potting shed or garage, and make sure your air conditioner is winterized. A basic list will keep you on task and make sure you don’t forget anything important.
October Gardening Tasks
The first thing to do is finish harvesting. There may be apples, gourds, pumpkins, squash, and other tender fruits to bring indoors.
Next, if you want bright spring color, it is still not too late to install bulbs. Plant them two to three times as deep as the length of the bulb and mulch to protect them from heavy freezes.
Cut back any perennial fruits and veggies and cover with mulch. Save seeds as you process fruits and veggies. Pull spent annuals. Mulch or cover paths and large areas with cardboard to deter spring weeds.
You can still plant trees and shrubs, watering them in well if there is no natural precipitation.
Plant winter cover crops. Blow or rake leaves into beds as insulation and natural compost. Move established plants if necessary. Reseed patchy areas of the lawn.
Tips of Fall Gardening in the Northwest
Many Northwest gardens will not experience a killing freeze in October, so you can keep gardening cool season crops. Be ready with frost covers and watch the news for the weather forecast. You can save many crops by covering them as soon as a freeze is expected. You might also use straw over plants at night and pull it away in the daytime.
Outside of garden chores, remember to winterize air conditioners, irrigation systems, RVs, and any water features. Now is a good time to put out bird feeders or sunflower heads for the birds.
With a little pre-planning and action, your garden will weather the winter beautifully and come back in spring with a bang.