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What To Do In Your Vegetable Garden This October (Mid-Fall)
If you want to get more from your vegetable garden by extending your growing season October is the time to pull out your cold frames or other season extension structures like grow tunnels, hoop houses or row covers. These can extend your growing season by weeks or months, depending on the microclimates in your garden.
Vegetable Gardening Tasks for October
- Continue to weed this month. Many “winter annual” weeds will have sprouted already. These germinate in the fall and can survive the winter as small plants. Next spring they’ll continue to grow and become a nuisance, so the sooner you can get rid of them, the better.
- Plant annual rye or winter wheat in vacant vegetable beds to prevent weeds and grow green manure for next spring.
- Mulch carrots to keep them from freezing.
- Cover salad greens with frost protection fabric.
- Work compost or composted manure into asparagus beds and around rhubarb. Be careful not to disturb the roots.
- Harvest all members of the cole family: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage and kohlrabi, and be prepared to cover them with frost protection fabric on cold nights.
- Amend your vegetable beds with compost if your soil test recommends it. Amending your soil now will save you time next spring.
- If you plan to use uncomposted manure in your vegetable garden, this is the month to apply it. Wait four months before planting in soil you’ve amended with fresh manure due to the potential for e Coli transmission to vegetables from the manure. So fall is the best time to do this.
- Harvest any remaining pumpkins and winter squash before the first hard freeze (below 28 degrees). Cure them in a warm, dry location for two weeks. This rids them of excess moisture. Before storing them wipe them down with undiluted vinegar or a diluted bleach solution to remove bacteria and mold spores.
- If you use cold frames or other frost-protection structures over the winter now is the time to put them up. Make sure any automatic openers you use on these are in good working condition.
- Plant garlic and shallots this month. Space the cloves 6 inches apart, and plant them pointy-end up!
- Cover any bare soil in your garden. Use mulch, straw or leaves to build up your soil structure.
- Protect and store any pots or planters that won’t survive outside during your winter.
- Get a soil test if you haven’t done so in the past three years. When you get the results, amend and fertilize your soil. Follow the instructions in the test results. This will save you time next spring.
- Store apples in a cool place with good air circulation.
- Persimmons start to ripen this month, especially after a frost.
- Fertilize berries and brambles or top-dress the beds with compost.
- Remove “mummies” (shriveled fruit) that are still clinging to your fruit trees. This interrupts fruit tree pest life cycles.
- Clean up dropped fruit and leaves from fruit trees; compost if healthy. Discard any diseased fruit and leaves.
- Cut back dead raspberry and blackberry canes.