PLANTING GARLIC AND OTHER OCTOBER GARDENING TIPS
Charlie Nardozzi, Horticulturist
National Gardening Association, and
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
Getting evergreens ready for winter, planting garlic, harvesting brussel sprouts, and bulb planting, are some of the garden activities for this month.
Make sure evergreens have a good deep watering before the ground freezes. They should receive at least an inch of water a week, preferably more. During winter they may "respire" or lose water on warmer days. Since the ground is frozen, they can't take up water from roots to replace what they lose. The result is browned or "scorched" leaves.
Protect young evergreens from wind damage during winter by wrapping them now in burlap. If you use wooden shields as protectors, it's not too soon to bring them out.
Plant garlic now for harvest next summer. Purchase garlic sold specifically for planting, or buy organic garlic. Commercial, non-organic, supermarket garlic may have been treated to inhibit sprouting. Break the garlic head into individual cloves, keeping the largest ones for planting. Use the small cloves for cooking. Plant cloves about 3 inches apart with the pointed side up. Try some different varieties to see which you prefer. Mulch the bed well with straw.
If you haven't done so, it's time to start harvesting brussel sprouts before the sprouts split. Starting from the bottom of the stem, snap off the round "mini-cabbages" that have formed. To encourage more production, top off the plant so it sends more energy into forming sprouts and less into growing leaves.
If you have only a small area for spring-flowering bulbs, consider planting them in layers. Dig up an area about nine to ten inches deep and plant the large bulbs, such as daffodils, first. Cover them with a layer of soil and plant the next largest diameter bulbs, such as tulips, on top. Cover them and plant crocuses and other small bulbs. Cover them with soil and mulch.
Daffodils are favorite bulbs of many gardeners, not only for their early spring show, but because almost no animals will eat them! Tulips on the other hand are one of the favorites, either for animals such as chipmunks and squirrels and skunks to dig up, or deer to eat the tops in the spring. One way to protect individual bulbs is to place some crushed rocks or shells in the holes when planting them. These now can be purchased in bags at complete garden stores, just for this purpose.
If planting a whole bed of bulbs such as tulips, you may wish to use poultry wire or something similar. Dig the bed out completely, line it with the wire mesh, then replant the bulbs. You may wish to cover the top as well until the bulbs emerge in spring.
If you test your soil and add any needed amendments now, the soil will be ready for planting in spring. Some amendments take time to break down and become available to plants. Soil test kits are available through the University of Vermont Extension (802-656-3030 or www.uvm.edu/pss/ag_testing/), local Extension offices, and many full-service garden stores.
Most plants prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.5 to 6.8 (a pH of 7 is neutral). New England soils tend to be acidic and frequently require the addition of lime. But your soil can vary from location to location in your yard. If you notice different characteristics of the soil in different beds, test them separately.
Other activities for this month include harvesting pumpkins when they
are completely orange, protecting pumpkins from frosts, raking leaves promptly
from lawns, and visiting an apple orchard.
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