Wednesday, October 1, 2008

To Do List for October

It is October! Hard to believe this year and gardening season are pretty much over. In Tennessee October is statistically the driest month of the year. All of us here are already suffering from a prolonged drought, let us hope that statistically this does not come true. Did you ever hear the saying about statisticians? It goes something like this, "Statistics don't lie, but liars use statistics." I am not saying the statistics are not true, but in 2007 we had a very wet October. I hope this happens again! By the way, I LOVE statistics and got an A in my statistics class so this is all tongue in cheek.

For now I have been watering like crazy every week. It takes me a few days to water too so it is an ongoing and slow process. I am sure the water company just loves me. I will be talking of that soon since they are about to majorly upset my world.

Here are some things I am doing or planning to do in my garden:

1) Continue to cut cool season grasses, overseed and aerate. (when rain is imminent)

2) Rake leaves. I use mine for mulch and compost many as well. Keep leaves off from grass if at all possible.

3) Divide perennials and move as necessary (When isn't it necessary?) Some perennials I am dividing and moving: hostas, daylilies, sedums, ornamental grasses. Peonies are also best divided in the fall if you want more plants, if not leave them alone so they get real big.

4) Fall is a great time to plant shrubs and some perennials. If you buy potted mums they need to be in the ground by mid month at the latest if they will stand a chance of coming back next year. They need time to establish their roots prior to freezing weather. This is the same with most perennials before they go dormant. Shrubs are more hardy and can usually be planted anytime the ground is not frozen. I have been known to dig up and move shrubs in January, with no adverse effects on the shrub.

5) Bring in your houseplants before the temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Dip or treat with insecticide if so desired.

6) I have taken many cuttings but am continuing even now. Some fall cuttings to take are: lantana, 'Powis Castle', Angel Trumpets, Iberis, Night blooming jasmine, PG hydrangeas, heliotrope, and coleus among others.

7) Don't trim trees or shrubs at this time as it will encourage new growth which will not harden off prior to the cold settling in. This includes roses. I usually trim my very few roses in early spring, trees in January or February, and depending on the type of shrub, usually in January or February to late spring, or after bloom (if it is a spring blooming shrub).

8) If you use Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Care (which I just started using last year), you might want to apply it now or anytime this winter. Always apply when good rains are expected. Its effects generally last one year. I use it on azaleas, oaks, and this year my little birch due to the double sawfly invasion this past summer.

9) Mulch garden beds. Conventional wisdom says to wait until the ground freezes. Problem is, the ground rarely freezes and stays frozen here in Tennessee. I mulch whenever I have the leaves. Take care to keep mulch at least 6 inches from the trunks of shrubs and trees.

10) I don't normally cut back my perennials
until early spring, (Peonies are the exception and should be cut down and the foliage thrown in the trash-always) but if you like a tidy garden, here are a few you may like to cut back: hostas, daylilies, gaura, and irises . I generally do not cut back the following: mums, asters, Joe Pye weed, coneflowers, salvia, ornamental grasses, bee balm, and lantana. I believe the foliage, though dried and black, to be somewhat attractive in the winter garden plus I think it helps to protect the crown of the perennial.

11) Feed the birds that do not migrate. This is especially important if we have a harsh winter. Most hummingbirds should be gone by the end of the month, however, leaving the feeders up will not harm the hummingbirds-as they migrate when they are ready. I still notice hummingbirds humming around here.

12) Keep birdbaths clean and free of debris and full as long as the water is not frozen. Bring in concrete birdbaths or cover with a plastic wrap if you are not going to use them this winter. Prepare your water heaters for use now so you won't be left short when the weather gets really cold. I have both a pond heater and birdbath heater. They come in handy at certain times and I can tell you the birds appreciate water that is not frozen on the coldest days in winter.

13) Cover your pond with screening material if you can. If not, clean the debris out of the pond in a timely manner.

14) Store patio furniture.

15) Dig up tender bulbs such as: dahlias and caladiums. Store in peat moss. I place mine in my crawl space but any place where they will not freeze is acceptable. I have begun digging mine now. I found that if I waited until the first frost, I could not locate my caladiums, they simply vanished. Dahlia stems were still visible though.

16) Store your Boston ferns in your crawl space too. Make sure they are well watered prior to closing them up for the winter.

17) Begin planting spring bulbs late this month. You don't want to plant them too early.

18) Plant garlic and onions. Also, go ahead and give some fall crops a chance to grow by planting starts from: cauliflower, broccoli, peas, and cabbage. I am also going to be trying some fall crops from seeds such as: lettuce and mesclun.

19) Continue to weed as necessary.

20) Dig tender perennials if you so desire. Some I plan to dig are: Angel Trumpets (small ones only), and a holly fern. There are probably more you can dig, but this is it for my garden digging and storing. I like to save most from cuttings as they take up less room. These plants will go under the house with the Boston ferns. A post will be forthcoming on the process and what the results were this past spring.

21) If a hard freeze is predicted and you still have tomatoes in the garden, pick all of the green tomatoes and place in a double paper bag in an unheated area such as a garage. The tomatoes will slowly ripen over the next few months. I have actually eaten tomatoes ripened this was in January. You do want to check them every few days for rotten ones, as sometimes there is a bad one or two.

22) Plant pansies!

in the garden....

The camelias have begun their yearly bloom, as shown in the picture above. This camelia pictured above is blooming a few months earlier this year than last. Not sure why but I am enjoying the start of the winter roses.

Rose asked me to post a picture of Racquel's marker stone once I made it. I hope Racquel does not mind. Once it cures I will package it up and send it to you Racquel.

I made several stones in this batch and still have more to make for Master Gardener door prizes (one of these days!). The little "Hi" stone is just a stone I made with the leftover concrete. There was not enough to do anything else with it so I wind up with a bunch of these little ones around the garden.


  1. Okay Tina, this is the best list you have ever done. I may even want to print it out! LOL Really very useful and things that I had not thought of either. I have added netting over the pond for the first time this year, and unhooked the tubing from the pump to let the friction of the bubbling water keep it from freezing solid. This is my first year with the hummer feeder and was wondering whether the feeder being available kept them from leaving when they should, thanks! And watering still is taking up lots of gardening time here also, sigh.
    new url

  2. Hello Tina! As Frances said, this is a great list. I had been wondering about the hummingbirds, too, thanks for that info. After my visit to the NE I have a renewed interest in getting some more evergreens at C&L, so I will be following your advice and planting them this fall and early winter. Tina, it is a delight to visit other places but a real delight to come home! Gail

  3. This is a great list! I always forget about the net for my fish pond, and end up with a mess to clean out in April. Have you ever divided your mums? I've read that you can, but I had no luck when I tried it last year.

  4. Are those pennies in the corner of the markers? They look pretty cool.
    No list for me, hubby passed his cold to me, I thanked him quite profusly!

  5. LOVE the stone!
    I am going to print your list to put in my garden journal. It's got great reminders on it! I love to work in the garden in the fall. I light the chiminea and have such a good time!

  6. Quite a list there Tina! I have a long list of "to do's" written up as well. Today is hedge clipping! Some people had suggested I not clip it as it will not get that tall. Well, I have only clipped it one time this year and oh boy, she is now over the retaining wall. We dont like that look so she has to get a hair cut today! My arms and back are not looking forward to that one...


  7. I was hoping you were gonna say we would be able to start cutting bushes. I have one out my back steps that needs to be cut badly from the late freeze last year. I did cut it this year but it looks like arms hanging out.
    Great list tho. Gives us ideas of what needs to be done this month.

  8. I'm slowly but surely checking off thing son my garden todo list.

    I like your garden stones.

  9. I LOVE THE WELCOME MARKER!!!! Thanks for giving us all a sneak peak at it. Can't wait to put it in my garden. :) You did great!
    Great list Tina. It will be a great reminder of all the things I need to take care of this fall. I hope you guys get some rain soon. We've been having a wet fall which is common for us.

  10. Frances, Now you know you can do all this with your eyes closed! But thanks for the compliment!

    Gail, Welcome back! Can't wait to hear about your visit to Layanee's garden! Missed ya!

    Sophie, When moving mums you can sometimes break them apart but this it too much work. I propagate mine by cuttings all season. All of mine are made this way and I have some doozies I'll be posting. Try the cuttings. They bloom the same year! The next year they will be even more massive.

    Dawn, Nope, clear marbles. I like a bit of decoration and thought it might fit with Racquel's garden to make it shine. The stones are versatile like that. Sorry about your cold! I did not get a cold ALL last year and hope it stays that way this year.

    Meadowview Thymes, That would be so nice working in the garden with the chiminea going. We don't have one but maybe one day. Fall is such a great time in the garden.

    Skeeter, Take some iburprofen before you start the trimming. It is a long hedge to cut and what a job! Have fun before you know it will be over for the season. My mammogram is this month as a matter of fact. Gotta go call now-thanks.

    Sarah, What type of shrub? If you have obviously dead branches on your shrub you can cut the dead branches out with no adverse effects. Go ahead and snip the branches out. It should be okay.

  11. Always lotsa work to be done but it will be slowing down soon. Here in Maine I have already started putting my garden to bed for the winter.

  12. Last year we planted winter rye after the fall leaf cleanup. I loved it being green all winter.

  13. Just looking at that list makes me tired and wonder how does she do it all and go to school as well.
    I have to get moving with my outside chores or I will never get there :)

  14. Hi, Tina--This month, I can't think of anything to add to your list--it's pretty comprehensive! Do you chop the leaves you use for mulch? Do you have any trouble with weeds when you use leaves? It must be really good for the soil--as always, thanks for the reminders. Lucky Racquel!

  15. great list !
    i don't have this much to do this year seeing as we are new to this house. but this is a great reference for what to do. thanks for posting it.

  16. Tina, a great to-do list! Like Frances, I may just print this out to remind me of all that I should do this month. I had planned to divide my hostas and daylilies in the spring because they're smaller and easier to work with then, but is there an advantage to doing it in the fall?

    Thanks for posting the markers--these are great!

    My favorite quote on statistics comes from Mark Twain: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics." LOL

  17. Racquel, Glad you like the marker stone. It will go in the mail by the end of the week along with a surprise. Thanks for wishing us some rain. I am STILL watering!

    Mom, I got the photos of your garden and they look great! Especially the marigold seeds. I plan to post some pictures probably with my veggie garden update.

    Donna, I have debated planting rye grass. I am afraid I might let it go too long but it is still an option. When did you pull it?

    Cindy, With all your area and a baby too I bet you are probably tired all the time-but still manage to keep up! What is the secret?

    Cosmo, I wish I had the time to chop the leaves, but no that is usually not in the cards. I put newspapers down under the leaves once I've swept them all up, and that so helps with weeds. I just still wonder where all the leaves go to after a few months in the growing season. They sure disapppear.

    Marmee, I did not know your house was new. What a joy to be able to start from scratch! Take your time and don't overdo it like I did. Gardening is a process. I noticed I had a pink cosmo finally bloom! Thought of you.

    Rose, I usually divide and move my perennials in the fall because come spring it seems so easy! It is all done by this point. It probably doesn't matter if you do the spring or fall for hostas and daylilies, but peonies should for sure be done in fall. I was wondering if someone would be offended about my statistics thing-but I see not! I like Twain's quote even better than the one I posted. It is so true! Your seeds are going in the mail today.

  18. Good Afternoon All,
    A great post Tina, Lots to do on your list. I need as a remember but here some of the things we can let go. Fl. is so different as to winter preparedness. Still trying to get some of my beds redone. Slow process.
    Have a great day all.

  19. ok, Tina, now I feel guilty ... my conscience is already struggling with all the chores I really should do now, but avoid (kind like ironing). Still got lots of stuff blooming in my backyard. Andrea

  20. Tina, lovely header photo! I adore Skeeter’s close up shot of the sun through the caladium leaf. Did she take the butterfly in the header too? Those blue berries are very intriguing. It is amazing to be October already. You’re to do list is very long – will you get through it all? I like making lists too, but always get through them in a timely fashion.

    That’s interesting that we both are both Jane Auel fans – more on my blog comment. I should add that although I don’t write/read romance, I think a book without good romance doesn’t have a heart. In my genre I get to mix it all – suspense, romance, cool setting and of course fun characters. It seems like you enjoy mixing lots of favorite elements in your garden too.

    Sorry to take so long to get here – lots of interruptions with the kids home sick, but they are feeling better.

  21. Lola, Florida would be WAY different from here for sure. You can garden hearty year round down there. Hope you get that bed done soonest!

    Andrea, Welcome back! Are you on a regular schedule now? Miss your beautiful flowers and gardens in Deutschland!

    Sarah, You bet Skeeter took that lovely butterfly picture. I asked her for a few photos she thought would look good up there and she came thru. We like it pretty much. My favorite butterfly too. Yup, I'll get thru it all day by day. It is a gradual thing for me but all needs to be done. I love Jean Auel and have most of the series except maybe the last one. The Clan of the Cave Bear and The Passage of the Plains were my favorites. I think of traversing Europe in prehistoric times occasionally and then I remember just how good we have it with technology-planes, trains and automobiles:) I don't read as much as I'd like to anymore (too much blogging) but will look for your book for sure! Take it easy with the kiddos and don't worry about being timely at all. Blogging is not like that, but do drop by when you can:) Glad the kids are feeling better.

  22. Oops Sarah, I meant the Plains of Passage. It has been a while so I had to go look at the book. You knew what I meant though I bet.

  23. Tina, I got so interested in reading all of the comments here, I had to go back to the top and re-read your post! Great advice you have here. I did a no-no and trimmed my Knockouts a few weeks ago, but not much seems to faze them anyway. Your method of ripening green tomatoes is a good one, but don't you like them fried, girl? Mmmm!

  24. Tina, I couldn't even get you're and your straight today on my last comment. I never remember names and titles. Hopeless. My rough drafts are rough.

    Thanks, my kids are feeling better, but of course I'm fighting it now. I'm desperate to get back to work tomorrow as I'm past the hard beginning.

    I haven't read Margolin myself, but he's a bestseller author and on more than one occasion I've read and liked a book and then discovered that the author and I share/shared the same agent or agency. I just hope she's as right about me. It's not the easiest time to be trying to break into publishing.

  25. Well, I just trimmed bushes and trees this morning. But it doesn't get real cold here. I usually just cut them when it looks necessary, and they grow back abundantly! Also, I just purchased bee balm and cone flower yesterday and planted them in the ground. I will heed your warning on those at least! Too late with the other. Thanks for this informative post!

  26. Hi Tina; thank you very much for your visit.) Your garden list is great and I am sure a good help to do all the chores before winter arrives. I make little notes when wandering around the garden to remember what is next in line to look after. I like the concrete markers you have made. Could you perhaps make a post how you have done them and what sort of concrete, colours etc you used?

  27. Could you narrow your (my?) to do list down to about ten or so things instead of 22?? It wore me out just reading it! ;~)

  28. Walk2write, I love fried green tomatoes-when I cook. Sadly I am more of a gardener than cook. Poor hubby and son. Glad you liked the comments. They are a big part of our little community and we enjoy you in it! The discourse between you and TC has been interesting. See?! You weren't harsh at all.

    Sarah, I forget names too:) Rough drafts are meant to be rough, don't worry, you just need time. I Googles Margolin and went to his website. He seems to be a mystery, intrique author. Sounds good and he has written quite a few books. You must have a good agent. Stick with it!

    Brenda, Hi there! You're welcomed on the post. It is more for my area of Tennessee but if you can use any of it, then please do so. Your bee balm and coneflower will appreciate fall planting over spring planting I am betting.

    Titania, Thanks for visiting. I was visiting Kanak's blog and saw the title of your post so I thought I'd drop in and say Congrats on your award! The marker stones are made from a kit, and while I have posted on them before I haven't yet done a full fledged how to post. Sounds like a good winter post. I'll do that just for you but it will be a while before it is posted. I'll let you know when.

    TC, Can I shorten the list just for you? Well now, I could I suppose, or I could just make it larger too-like pull those loosestrife before they go to seed this fall?:) Couldn't resist-sorry! I think one of your commenters said it aptly on your last post, "You have a dry wit" and I just adore it! Hope you don't mind!

  29. Ms. Tina: I don't mind at all. I think we all compliment one another.

  30. I think the fall months are the busiest months. There's always so much to do to get things ready for winter. You have a good list put together that should be very helpful!

  31. Hi Tina- Thanks for coming by my blog! Love all your gardening tips and advise! How great to live in Tennessee! A dream state, in my book! :)

  32. Oh...Love your markers as well...these are really a neat color and shape!

  33. TC, I agree! It is fun talking with everyone-especially you!

    Dave, Thanks! I got my badge up! It took a few tries I'll tell ya!

    Julie, A big thanks from Tennessee! How sweet to think of it as a dream state. It's got good weather for sure. Glad you like the marker stones. I really must post on them and give the company some good press.

  34. O, the branches aren't dead. The have green on the ends. Looks like a long skinny arm with green leaves for the hands. It blooms pink in mid summer. Very pretty. I would really like to relocate it, but it is doing really great where it is.

  35. I am thinking you have a crepe myrtle Sarah. I probably would just wait to prune it in the late spring once you can see what is alive and what is dead, unless it is bothering you. If it is a crepe, it will sprout more branches from the base no problem.

  36. Sorry, blooms in spring. I will email you a pic. Maybe you can identify it for me. Thanks

  37. Thanks for the great list. I just got back into town after a 2 week trip to visit my husband's family and as an ambitious newbie gardener, I'm overwhelmed by all the things I want to do before it gets cold! I'm not even sure of all the things I need to do...Your list and ideas help a lot!

  38. Lindsey, I am glad the list helps you. Welcome back!