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  • Spaeth Property Service

Get Your Yard Ready For Fall

October is the month to . . . .

In the Vegetable Garden

  • Clean up vegetable crop debris like tomato and squash plants to reduce harboring important disease and insect pests. Remove crop debris and compost or till promptly into the soil for quick breakdown.

  • Do a soil test. Now is a great time to do a soil test. Soil testing can help identify problems and inform proper fertilizer use in the vegetable garden. For details, see the UMass Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory web site.

  • Plant a cover crop. Cover crops are fundamental components of organic gardening. For gardeners, terminating cover crops like winter rye has traditionally been a difficult task. Recently farmers and gardeners have been exploring the use of tarps to terminate cover crops. For best results, establish a dense cover crop with high biomass. In spring, roll the cover crop with something heavy and cover with a black tarp. Remove tarps after 3-4 weeks and plant transplants through the mulch-like cover crop residue.

  • Don’t forget the garlic. October to early November is an ideal time to plant garlic. Plant garlic roughly finger deep after first frost and mulch before consistent hard freezes. 

In the Flower Garden

  • Finish dividing and planting. Dividing and planting projects should be completed at least 6 weeks before soils freeze. In eastern Massachusetts, Indigenous Peoples' Day is a good target date. Mulch liberally to avoid heaving.

  • Dig summer bulbs like cannas, dahlias, elephant ears, gladiolus, and tuberous begonias. Dig bulbs on a dry day, wipe or brush soil off; don’t wash. Place bulbs in wood shavings or peat moss and store in a cool dry place.

  • Leave spent flowers and stems in the garden for winter interest and as a resource for wildlife. Purple coneflower and rudbeckia flowers attract goldfinches well into the fall and early winter; many beneficial insects overwinter in dead stems.

On the Lawn

  • Fall represents one of the most important seasons for lawn growth. Cool conditions and ample soil moisture are ideal for growing roots and building reserves for the winter. Manage fallen leaves to allow sunlight to reach the grass. Leaves that are raked or blown can be repurposed in other areas of the property as mulch or as overwintering habitat for beneficial insects. Mulch-mown leaves can help contribute to soil organic matter.

  • Avoid soil compaction. Fall conditions often include wet soils which are easily compacted by ordinary yard equipment. When projects include repeated travel of equipment like heavy wheelbarrows, use sheets of plywood to help distribute their weight and avoid soil compaction. 

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