University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Fall News Article
line
PLANTING GARLIC AND OTHER OCTOBER GARDENING TIPS
 
Charlie Nardozzi, Horticulturist and
Leonard Perry, UVM Extension Horticulturist
 
           
Planting garlic for next summer’s harvest, cutting back Brussel’s sprouts, and digging up dahlias are some of the gardening activities for this month.
           
Now is the time to plant garlic for harvest next summer. Purchase garlic sold specifically for planting, or buy organic garlic. Commercial, nonorganic, supermarket garlic may have been treated to inhibit sprouting. Plant individual cloves, root end down (pointed side up), 2 inches deep and 8 inches apart, in well-drained, compost-amended soil. Once the ground freezes, cover the garlic bed with 6-inches of straw or shredded leaves for winter protection.
           
To get the sprouts to ripen faster, pinch off the top couple of inches of your Brussel’s sprouts plants to direct their energy into the sprouts that are already developing along the stem. Clip off any lower leaves that have yellowed, and keep plants watered if fall weather is dry.
           
When frost blackens the tops of dahlias, cut the foliage back to 2 inches tall, then dig up the tubers. Let them dry for a day or two, but not too long or they will start to shrivel.  Brush off any loose dirt and store in a plastic crate or cardboard box, lined with perforated plastic, and filled with dry peat moss, wood shavings, or other similar material.  Keep moist but not wet or they will rot.  Store in a cool, dark area between 35-45 degrees F.
           
When cleaning up the flower garden in fall, leave some the seedheads to feed the birds. The seedheads of plants like purple coneflower (Echinacea), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), coreopsis and cosmos will provide a tasty treat for birds such as goldfinches.
           
Keep watering trees and shrubs, especially evergreens, which were newly planted this growing season until the ground freezes. Although the tops of woody plants may be dormant, their roots are still active until late in the season.
           
Weed your perennial gardens and shrub beds thoroughly in the fall and you'll have fewer weed problems to begin the following year. It's also a good time to edge beds.
           
The foliage of evergreens can be injured over the winter by the drying effects of wind and sun, especially if they are planted in a southern or western exposure. Protect plants over the winter with burlap screens.

If you test your soil and add any needed amendments now, the soil will be ready for planting when you are in the spring.  Contact your local university Extension office for a soil-testing kit, also available at many garden stores.  Since 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.
           
All you need to “force” bulbs indoors is a place that stays cool but above freezing (35 to 45 degrees is best).  Pot up daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, and other spring bulbs that need such a cold treatment, and water them well.  For the best show, don't mix different types of bulbs in one pot unless you're sure they bloom at about the same time. Then place the pots in cool storage for about 12 to 16 weeks. Check on them periodically and water when the soil is dry.  Unlike the spring daffodils, paperwhite narcissus don’t need a cold treatment.
           
Other gardening tips for this month include checking and replacing faded garden labels, carving pumpkins, visiting a local apple orchard, and baking fresh apple pies. 

(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist, author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com). 

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