It’s fall! Whether you planted a fall garden or are putting your garden to bed for the winter, there are plenty of tasks to keep you busy in October.
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In the September garden, we prioritized harvesting, preserving, and seed saving.
This month, we will continue to harvest, preserve, and save seeds, while maintaining active gardens, putting inactive gardens to bed for the season, and planting garlic and fruit crops.
Following are some ideas for how to prioritize your activities in the October garden. These tasks are based on my gardening in USDA hardiness zone 6a. You may need to make adjustments for your climate.
1. October Harvest
First and foremost harvest what needs harvesting. You’ve worked so hard to grow things–now it’s time to capitalize on that work!
Harvesting Cool Weather Crops in October
- Beets & beet greens (Here are my tips for harvesting beets plus a ton of beet recipes)
- Turnips (Greens are super tasty, too)
- Onions (Cure for 2 weeks before storing)
- Potatoes (Also cure for 2 weeks before storing)
- Swiss chard
Harvesting Warm Weather Crops in October
- Cucumbers (Here are my tips for harvesting and using cucumbers)
- Summer & winter squash
- Sweet potatoes (Here’s how to harvest, cure, and store sweet potatoes)
Would you like to grow more food with less effort? Check out my mini book, The Permaculture Inspired Vegetable Garden.
Harvesting Herbs in October
- Calendula (Use dried calendula to make a healing oil)
- Chives (Check out my tips for using and preserving chives)
- Lemon balm (Try making a tincture, elixir, or herbal vinegar)
- Oregano (Here are my tips for using oregano)
- Rosemary (Learn how to keep your potted rosemary alive over the winter)
- Thyme (Here are a few suggestions for using thyme)
Harvesting Perennial Crops in October
- Pawpaws (Asimina triloba)
- Strawberries (everbearing)
2. October Planting
Here are the planting and planning tasks that help me stay organized this month. Don’t forget I’m gardening in USDA hardiness zone 6a – you may need to make adjustments for your climate.
Sowing Outside in October
- Garlic (Chesnok Red hardneck is one of my favorites)
Planting Outside in October
- Berry bushes (Maybe some elderberry?)
- Fruit trees (Here are my fruit tree planting tips)
- Rhubarb (Try a beautiful red rhubarb)
3. October Garden Maintenance
Once the harvesting has been taken care of, here are some tasks to work through to put the garden to bed or prepare for the cooler weather ahead.
- Cut spent flowers, or leave seed heads to feed the birds through the winter.
- Leave vegetable flowers for bees, then save the seed. Here are some other fall flowers I grow for the bees.
- Put (non-diseased) dead plant matter in the compost. Cut plants at the base and leave their roots intact.
- Remove diseased plant matter and dispose in garbage.
- Mulch beds. Here are some mulching tips.
- Add soil amendments to inactive gardens with a digging fork. It’s the perfect time of year to improve soil.
Extending the Season
Set up a cold frame for fall and overwintering crops. Here are some cold frame tips.
- Cut back herbs and use them as fertilizer.
Many varieties of brambles (i.e., red raspberry, blackberry, black raspberry) require a fall pruning. Here’s how I prune my black raspberries.
- Collect and save herb, flower, and vegetable seeds. Here’s how I save cilantro seeds and here are my tips for collecting calendula seed heads.
- Be sure to store your seeds properly.
Watering & Weeding
- Proper watering can make all the difference in your garden. If you want to learn more check out How to Grow More Vegetables – it’s chock-full of useful information, including lots of details about watering.
- Don’t let the weeds drive you crazy! Here are five weeds you want in your garden.
How is your fall garden coming along?