It’s late October, but the weather is acting like summer. The temperatures have been in the 80’s all week and it looks like the kiddo’s definitely won’t need a jacket for Halloween. I’m not complaining about the weather, but I must admit it’s pushed back my usual October schedule of garden and lawn duties.
By this time last year, I had already stuffed my greenhouse full with my tender tropicals and a few annuals that I wanted to over winter. Today, as I set here and share my recent garden journey, I haven’t tucked a singe tropical into my greenhouse with the exception of some giant ferns that I’m having a love affair with at the moment. They are so lush and fabulous… but I digress. The truth is it’s still hot…. and I’m reluctant to toss my ornamental cabbage and pansies out along the pool deck to bake in this unusual heat wave. But November is next week!!!! And I’m freaked out. The fall containers must replace the summer tropicals. I just hope it doesn’t go from our balmy 80 degree temps to 40. It’s possible, after all this is Oklahoma. And our weather is nothing if not unpredictable. It keeps things exciting. Gardening is for the adventurous here, there’s no setting back and relaxing for long.
So what have I been doing? Although, I’m a good two weeks behind my normal schedule, I have kept on task with fall transition duties. Here in zone 7, this month is the time to:
1.) re-seed fescue lawns
2.) Apply a lawn weed pre-emergent (with the exception of lawn areas where you just re-seeded. Kinda defeats the purpose.)
3.) Fertilize any fescue (cool season) grass, but don’t fertilize bermuda- you’ll pay for it next spring.
4.) Purchase fall bulbs. They should be stored in a cool dry area until late November here in zone 7. It’s way to warm to plant them now. But if you don’t buy them now, there may not be much of a selection at planting time.
5.) I planted my seeds for cool season greens in September and they are coming up nicely, with the exception of my kale that was absolutely demolished by some type of bug about two weeks ago. Luckily it is making a recovery. I dusted it with an organic pesticide to help prevent any further destruction. I feed the greens with a tea made from fish emulsion every two weeks. They love it and my furry girls thinks it smells fabulous… which means it’s absolutely putrid.
6.) It’s the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs. I planted a new Prairie Fire Crabapple tree and a couple of Nelly Stevens hollies.
7.) It’s time to also add extra mulch around a few tender perennials that will over winter in the gardens, like my palms and a yellow Brugmansia. The Brugmansia stayed in the greenhouse last winter, but it’s gotten so large and the bugs love it. I’ve permanently planted it near the potager and I’m hoping it will survive our winter. It’s not rated for zone 7 winters, but a few master gardeners that I know have been growing Brugmansia through our winters, year after year.
8.) And there’s always greenhouse duties. This fall, I painted the greenhouse floor. (I’ll be writing about it soon.) I wanted the greenhouse to have a little more style, but still remain a fully-function wet space. It’s first and foremost a greenhouse, it just also happens to be my she-room. I love how the painted concrete floor turned out, especially the painted rug. I also re-oiled the cedar benches since they have remained empty.
9.) Soon it’ll be time to winterize the greenhouse water cooler. The heater has been checked and it’s ready for the first cold night.
10.) I’ve taken a few cuttings from my favorite annuals and perennials, so I can grow new plants in the greenhouse and they’ll be ready next spring to go out in the garden. Cuttings from pineapple sage, Baby Tut Grass, pink Mexican Petunia and a favorite hydrangea take up far less space in the greenhouse then a mature plant. I’ll start seed cells next spring.
11.) The fountain also has to be winterized in the formal garden. Treating the stone with a water protectant is necessary and as an extra precaution we cover ours during the coldest months.
12.) A water sealer like Impregnator Pro is also applied to all the stone pathways, patios and stairs.
13.) My favorite duty in October is transitioning my entry containers and other patio containers to fall plants, like pansies, mums, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and English ivy.
14.) This can also be a great time to divide many perennials that will go dormant through winter like any hostas, peonies, lambs ear, day lilies, etc…
15.) Spreading compost throughout the garden is also a great way to help your plants through the winter. It adds nutrients to the soil and an extra layer of freeze protection. I haven’t gotten this done yet, but my compost is ready to spread. I’ve just got to choose a day, when it doesn’t matter if I smell a little….. gamy.
16.) The fairy garden needs to be dismantled and all the homes and accessories stored for the winter. This makes me a little sad, since Finn had so much fun designing this garden. However, we left our village out last winter and learned that not everything will survive. And a few things went missing. We are still scratching our heads over the mysterious disappearance of a gazebo and car. I’m wondering about pack rats. Does anyone have experience with a pack rat hoarding your stuff?
17.) Finally, take time to enjoy the last of the butterflies and collect any seeds from plants you might want to share or scatter elsewhere next year.
18.) Wow… I’m exhausted. Time to take a nap like GiGi. Maybe I’ll make a pallet near the Eleaganus; It smells so good this time of year. (Here’s more about Eleaganus.)
Happy fall gardening.