Monthly Gardening Guide – October
Welcome to your Monthly Gardening Guide for October! Below you will find information on what I will be doing, (or trying to do) for the month of October. These are goals, not standards and some months I am on top of it and other months I blow it. But somehow, and thankfully, the garden is forgiving. Your garden to-do list may look different than mine, and that is okay. Perhaps you will glean something from my list and please, if you have any suggestions, opinions or tips & tricks feel free to contact me! I would love to hear from you. Now, let’s get our hands dirty and get growing!
This month in Texas is usually the official start of Fall, yay! Pretty much as we near the middle of the month the temperatures begin to drop and we begin to transition into our Fall Garden mode. Our main goals this month are to remove spent plants and refurbish raised beds with soil and amendments, start seeds indoors and outside for fall and winter crops, and look ahead to frost preparation for November.
October is a dual month. What do I mean? Not only are we focused on removing all the dying or dead plants and veggies from the Summer garden, but we are turning our attention more fully to planting our Fall garden AND also enriching our vegetable beds and putting some of them to sleep for the winter. It’s a busy time. It’s also a great time to take stock of our frost protection items. Making sure we have plenty of frost cloth, frost covers, row covers, mulch and also a warmer place to tuck in plants such as a greenhouse structure or upside down tubs, etc. for when the freeze comes.
These Veggies thrive in our Texas Winters:
- Greens (arugula, spinach, collards, lettuce, kale, etc.)
- Brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.)
- Legumes (peas)
- Root vegetables (carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, onions, potatoes, parsnips)
Some favorite Texas flowers for the winter:
When to plant:
For winter vegetables in Texas, planting season starts anywhere between late summer and the end of fall. My recommendation is to plan your planting days for the middle of fall, when you’ll reap the benefits of cold temperatures at night but temperatures will be moderate enough during the day to be enjoyable.
The closer you get to cold days, the better luck you’ll have against diseases and pests, which become more dormant during colder temperatures. If you’d like to plant a second crop during winter, I suggest aiming for November (a great time to sneak in some succession planting) and also another third crop in January or early February.
Here in North Texas we generally only need the occasional protection with row covers on very cold nights to survive our winter temperatures. You can also plant any of these crops in a plastic covered low-tunnel or cold frame for Winter into Spring.
Watering Your Veggies:
Though you may be tempted to stop or alter your watering, make sure to remain on a consistent watering schedule until temperatures drop below freezing. We typically expect this to happen during some point in mid November, so plan to continue regular watering until the days start to get significantly shorter OR we get a freeze, whichever comes first.
A few videos on growing your Winter Veggies in Texas:
Lettuce, Kale, Spinach and all your Brassicas can successfully be grown through the winter with row coverings or in a greenhouse. I have used row coverings successfully! Make sure and watch the weather for extremely low temps and/or freezes and protect your plants accordingly. Check out this article for more information:
Prune your shrubs and perennials ONLY to groom and shape. Go ahead and leave perennials a little bit shaggy through the winter to provide seed and fruit for wildlife. If you prefer to tidy up your beds, use plant markers by your perennials to remind you where they are, come spring. Usually in Texas, especially in the North we prune shrubs and roses by about 1/3 at the beginning of fall (September) then wait to prune more in the early spring prior to budding out, and prune by 1/2 and feed as well.
Click HERE to download a great How and When to Prune Perrennial guide.
Need more Pruning help? Here are 3 great articles to help you out:
After clearing summer crops, leave your soil open for a week or so then apply an organic slow-release fertilizer before replanting with fall and winter crops.
For your flowers, if you did not use a balanced all purpose fertilizer in September, you can still apply it now. Blood Meal (organic) on pansies and other fall color will help them give their best blooms. Apply every 2-4 weeks through winter.
Use greensand (organic) on evergreen plants such as hollies, magnolias, and live oaks, to maintain a source of iron for healthy foliage. Dry molasses (Organic) applied now will stimulate microbes in the soil that assist in making fertilizers work better and improve the health of your soil.
The Look Out For’s & To-do’s
WATER: Water only as needed. Hand water newly planted plants to get them established. Turn your sprinklers OFF and conserve water after we’ve had a rain of 1/2” or more during a weekly period. Use a rain gauge to monitor your rainfall. Just keep your eye out and on the temperature gauge, here in North Texas we can be in the 50’s one day and the 80’s the next. Your plants will need their water adjusted.
LAWN: Watch for brown patch on St. Augustine lawns. This fungus prefers cool temperatures (50°-60°) and moisture to develop. Use Horticultural Cornmeal (not Corn Gluten Meal) or ask us about other recommended products to prevent brown patch and help cure it. Rake and/or mulch leaves from your lawn to allow sunlight to continue to strengthen the grass’s food storage for the upcoming winter. Take those leaves and add to your compost pile, OR add as a top dressing to raised veggie beds that are not being used at the moment.
OTHER BITS: Check your houseplants for hitch-hiking insect pests before you bring them in for the winter! Walk your garden daily and continue to harvest your fall veggies!
Monthly Garden Check-list for October
PLANT: Fall really is the best time of year for planting!
Harvest – Yes, there are still veggies to harvest. Check every day. Melons, pumpkins, squashes, lettuce, greens, you never know what will surprise you!
Veggies – See list above, you can squeeze in another succession planting between now and the middle of November. And a third planting January/February depending of course on weather and your location.
Annuals – Plant pansies, ornamental kale, snapdragons, alyssum, dianthus, and mums.
Perennials – Plant just about any of them! They’ll get established this fall and winter to flourish next year. Dig up, divide and replant spring flowering perennials such as Daylilies, Iris, Shasta Daisies. These all benefit from thinning out clumps at least every 3 years.
Wildflower – Wildflower seeds should be planted now if you have not done so yet, and this includes our wonderful Native Texas Blue Bonnets. This is also the best time of year to plant trees (and save money doing so).
Get out and enjoy the cooler temps and start changing your landscape this fall. Feed and water the birds in your garden. Mulch your planting beds before winter’s cold arrives.
May you find joy & wonder in your garden and may your hands always be dirty,
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