October Garden Tips

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  • The Sonoma County rain year has begun (Oct1st –Sept 30th) and the first rains are upon us. The days are growing shorter. Nights are becoming cooler. Soil temperatures are falling. Plants will need less water.
  • From Petaluma to Santa Rosa to Healdsburg and Cloverdale October is one of the best planting times of the year. Fall and winter rains will water so your irrigation system won’t have to.
  • Even in fall there are lots of annuals to plant: Alyssum, Iceland Poppy, Johnny-Jump Up, Snapdragon, Pansy, Primrose and Sweet William
  • October is a good time to divide and transplant overgrown clumps of bulbs. Transplant as you would new bulbs in well-amended, good-draining soil
  • October is also a good time to divide perennials, which can then be given to family, friends and neighbors or used elsewhere in your landscape
  • Purchase Spring blooming bulbs now. Some of the best for Sonoma County properties are the daffodils which are virtually rodent and deer proof and will naturalize without additional irrigation. Paperwhites are amongst the earliest bloomers for landscapes.
  • Reduce water to deciduous trees as they begin to go dormant
  • Broadcast a fall fertilizer over areas watered by drip systems when 1″ of rain is expected and allow nature to do the water in.
  • Use clippers to avoid tearing fruit and snip off with a small section of their stems. Apples picked with the stem attached to the fruit keep longer
  • Mulch over the roots of frost tender vines and groundcovers. Replenish mulches so they remain at 2-3 inches thick
  • October is the last chance to plant winter vegetables
  • Slugs and snails are likely to become more active as the first rains move in
  • Apply frost protective sprays on tender plants once night time temps reach the high 30’s
  • Allow Pumpkin and Winter Squash to grow to size and harvest when their stems have turned brown because they do not ripen off the vine
  • October is a good month to plant a new lawn using cool season grasses like Fescues
  • Fertilize existing lawns
  • Rake up falling autumn leaves to help your lawn “breathe” and either add them to an existing compost pile or start one. Fallen leaves are nature’s fertilizer
  • Apply a pre-emergent weed control to save backbreaking work in the spring. Do not apply if starting perennials from seed. Be sure to follow the printed directions
  • Rake, pick up and dispose of fallen foliage to curtail overwintering insects and disease – especially under roses and fruit trees
  • Check/inspect/clean drainage systems, swales and roof gutters to prevent erosion and other weather related problems
  • Check/adjust your outdoor lighting system for the time of year and inspect for proper operation
  • Consult with an arborist or landscaper for a management program for your mature trees. Consider an inspection of your mature trees prior to winter’s onset.