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OCTOBER: What to Do in the Garden


In the Edible Garden

  • Dig up vegetable garden after killing frost and incorporate a 2-4 inch layer of organic matter. Plants left in the garden will serve as over wintering sites for insects.
  • Do not compost diseased plants. Compost rarely reaches temperatures required to kill most plant pathogens. Bag or burn the diseased plant material.
  • Protect plants when frost is predicted. Keep tarp, plastic, blankets and cardboard boxes handy.
  • Fry or pickle small green tomatoes that will not ripen.
  • Remove weeds from the garden. They are a great place for insects to overwinter.

In the Ornamental Garden

  • Do not add bone meal to the soil when planting bulbs. The scent of bonemeal may attract squirrels, moles, dogs and other animals that will dig up the bulbs. Work bulb fertilizer into the soil next spring after flowers fade.
  • Pot up spring flowering bulbs to force into bloom. Moisten soil and place in refrigerator for 10 to 12 weeks. After the cooling period, move to a cool sunny location to induce bloom. Erect barriers such as chicken wire or hardware cloth to protect newly planted trees and shrubs from rabbit damage during the winter.
  • Lift and harvest tender bulbs and corms. [caladiums, cannas, gladiolas, dahlias and tuberous begonias]. Dig up bulbs/corms and place in a well-ventilated area to dry for two to three weeks. Cut off stems with a sharp knife or scissors. Allow begonia stems to dry until they are brittle enough to break off from the bulb. Dust with a bordeaux mixture to prevent rot. Store in a cool, dark place in vermiculite.
  • Plant tulips in groups of one color for a showy effect. · Rake up leaves, twigs and fruit from crabapple trees to reduce apple scab.
  • Dig up dahlias after a hard frost. Cut back the tops. Dry in warm sun for two days and brush off soil. Dust with fungicide and store in vermiculite.

In the Indoor Garden

  • Give holiday cacti short days and cool nights to initiate flowering. Holiday cacti are short day plants— i.e., they will bloom when nights are at least 15 hours long. They will also flower if exposed to temperatures between 50-55 degrees. No flowers will form at night temperatures above 70 degrees. Place plants in a cool room where no lights are used at night to induce flowering.
  • Bring house plants indoors before night time temperatures drop below 55 degrees. Inspect plants for insects and diseases. Repot plants if necessary. Expose plants gradually to reduced lighting. Bringing plants from bright light to reduced light will cause leaves to drop, but new leaves will form after plants adapt to lower light.
  • Plant grapefruit or orange seeds in potting soil. Makes a nice foliage plant.
  • Reduce watering and fertilization of houseplants as days get shorter.

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questions

We moved into a house with a lovely azalea that didn’t bloom. We thought it might have been over-pruned. Last fall we did not prune it and now it still hasn’t bloomed. I was hoping to transplant it this year, but it looks rather sickly. Shall we prune it again and give it another year? Can I still transplant it?

Is it possible to plant and grow Italian cypress in the Chicago area? Are our winters too severe for it? If they are, is there an alternative conifer that will provide a similar look?

I thought that purple coneflowers were insect proof, but now I see some aphids at the bud and tiny flies. What is wrong?

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