October in Missouri is always an adventure. You never know what the weather will hold.
This year, we were blessed with beautiful, prolonged, summer conditions at the beginning of October.
Mid October brought milder temps and the plants loved it!
However, all good things must come to an end and the end of the month brought bitter cold and frost.
Fall is the time of year that things start to slow down in the garden, but there are still plenty of things to do. These are just some of the things I like to do in the fall to get ready for the coming cold and to make cleanup easier in the Spring:
Take down the hummingbird feeders, clean with vinegar solution, and store for the winter.
2. Pull weeds.
3. Remove spent plants from the raised beds, containers, and plant beds.
Some plants are great to leave for awhile so they can reseed and you can have “surprise” plants the next year. I like to let the green bean pods dry on the stalk for replanting next year. Dill and parsley may reseed to give you a surprise harvest in late summer the following year. I always let a few tomatoes dry and then scratch them into ground for next year. Sometimes they come up, sometimes they don’t, but it’s always fun to wait and see!
4. Pull weeds.
5. Bring the water hoses in for the winter and cover the outdoor faucets with insulation.
This was neglected in past years and we were rewarded with a burst pipe and a flooded basement. We will remember this from now on!
6. Pull more weeds.
7. Prune the blackberry canes that produced fruit this last season.
Next year’s blackberries will be produced on the new canes. If you’re not sure which cane produced fruit, you can always wait until the canes start to leaf out next years canes and get rid of the dead canes then.
8. Prune the fruit trees (except the fig tree).
We have apple, peach, plum, and cherry trees. Each fall they get a big haircut. The rule of thumb for fruit tree pruning is to prune up to 1/3 of the tree. Any more than this could stress the tree. I tend to push the limits on this one!
9. Pick pumpkins and gourds (or buy) and soak in vinegar water to kill mold spores.
I regret it every time I try to skip this step as I usually get moldy squash.
10. Yup, pull more weeds.
11. Plant fall containers.
I usually keep it pretty simple and focus on a few plants. This year was mums, pansies, and kale. I just love this ornamental kale!
Pansies were one of my favorite flowers this year. They are more cold tolerant than most other flowers so they are among the first flowers you see in the Spring and one of the last that hang around in the fall. They love the sun but will need some shade in the summer heat as they prefer cooler weather. Looking for a great flower for Halloween? Check out these black pansies:
12. Enjoy the the glory of Fall and of its joys and surprises.
Our long summer brought many surprises to my garden. In Mid October, I still had strawberries peaking out.
I had a surprise late summer harvest of dill that had reseeded the previous season.
…as did the parsley.
I had pansies popping up all over the place in the rocks and in neighboring containers. I love them so much that I just let them do their thing.
Are we sure it’s October? Just look at this grass!
The fern I had planted early in the season was still going strong, even after weeks of neglect (busy mom, sorry fern).
This is the first small fern that I had ever planted. I was curious to see how it would do as I had always bought the biggest ferns I could get my hands on in the past.
The small fern got transferred to a larger pot once I got it home from the nursery. The biggest negative of buying large, established ferns are that they are already root bound and I find it hard to keep them watered in the Missouri heat. I have soaked them in a bucket of water in the past but that can be a bit time consuming and a lot of extra work.
The fern below lasted well beyond my larger ferns and did so with a lot less care. Maybe I’ll be planting smaller ferns in my hanging baskets next year.
Cherry tomatoes galore!
More cherry tomatoes…and one very creepy photo bomber. Didn’t notice him until I edited the photo!
Sedum was spreading like crazy througout the rock bed.
13. Last but not least, Take a moment to truly enjoy the Fall foliage.
The fall foliage was just amazing. This tree is just around the corner from our house. It’s always among the first trees to turn red each fall.
The longer I garden, the more I find joy in all of the seasons and what they bring. Now, I look forward to winter and immersing myself in the holiday season!
Looking for some additional garden maintenance ideas that spans the seasons? Head on over to The Lavender Homefront for fantastic tips on composting, plant pruning, pest control, and more.