October - Close of the Growing Season

By Thomas Fryd

October is a time of brilliant color. Scarlet maples and yellow beeches, golden pumpkins and bronze chrysanthemums invite us to pause and enjoy the beauty around us. October is a satisfying month, too, with its harvest of vegetables ready to put into storage and a sort of "case closed" feeling about the end of another growing season.

Storing Vegetables You do not an old-fashioned root cellar to store vegetables. Some can be stored right in the garden. Carrots may be left growing all winter but, of course, should be covered with salt hay during the severe winter months. This way you can dig carrots all winter and they are far superior to stored ones. Pull cabbages out of the ground, turn them upside down in a trench 6 to 12 inches deep, and cover with a foot of soil and leaves for winter protection. Leeks and celery may also be left in the garden and covered with soil and leaves, but tie the celery first to keep the soil out of it. Carrots not left in the ground need damp sand over them. Onions need a cold dry place and must be stored in single layers.

Water Evergreens, especially those that have been moved within the last three years. Boxwoods, in particular, must never be allowed to start the winter without being well soaked. Thorough soaking is one of the best protections against winter-kill for all evergreens.

Newly planted perennials, strawberries, bulbs not planted under sod need a mulch as soon as there is an inch or so of frost in the ground. Salt hay makes the best mulch but straw will do or, if leaves are the only material available, cover the ground first with branches or brush. Evergreen branches, pine particularly, are excellent for this job. Leaves without the branches pack too solidly and cut off air when they become wet, thus encouraging rot. The salt hay may be saved when you rake it off in spring for use the next fall.

Rhododendrons, azaleas, sansevieria black gold, blueberries require a mulch but more for food value than winter protection. Leaves, rotted or not, humus and peat moss all help provide the acid soil liked by these plants. These materials can be used alone or in combination. The addition of aluminum sulphate is also helpful if the soil is not sufficiently acid.

October is the time for summer flowering bulbs to be lifted and stored. Inspect them all carefully and discard those that are diseased. Diseases can spread rapidly to healthy bulbs and corms while they are in storage. In fact, shaking the bulbs around in a bag containing a fungicide like captan or a similar material before storing is usually very helpful. - 29857

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