When October appears on the calendar, that is a good indication summer is really over. No great mourning this year. I spent a lot of this dry summer waiting for relief from the heat.
There are a number of things to complete in the garden before winter comes.
After one or two hard frosts, the leaves of the perennials will turn brown and the plants can be cut back. Any tender blooms you want to keep going for a while can be covered with a sheet or a light tarp during a frosty night and may give several weeks more enjoyment yet. The cover traps heat stored in the ground and prevents frost damage.
Tropical plants need to be brought into an area where they will receive good light. I have two hibiscus, a tall mandevilla, a fig tree and a bay to bring inside, and I will start the annual battle to keep some pots of rosemary alive until spring.
This also is bulb-planting time.
I have planted several clumps of daffodils under the cherry tree in the front, where they will receive some sun before the tree leafs out. And I am looking for a bargain in tulip bulbs. Most of mine had reverted to red and are dying.
I don't know why I dislike red tulips; it is just one of those things.
Tulips, daffodils and hyacinth should be planted about 6 inches deep and crocus about 3 inches. It is a good idea to mix in some peat moss and fertilizer in the bottom of the hole.
A good clean-up of the garden should provide plenty of sticks, leaves and twigs to supplement the compost pile.
After a summer of salads and fruit, I find a lot of kitchen waste in the bin needs covering with some dry brown material to keep things in balance. And the old potting soil from containers is another good addition, along with grass clippings from untreated lawns and old plant parts.
I like to think of the remnants of this year's garden going on to make next year's better. Cover the pile or bin to keep it warm and working.
After vegetable plots have been weeded and dug over, it is good to add a covering of compost or manure to last over the winter and ready to be dug into the top few inches of ground in the spring.
The year-long war on slugs needs to go up a notch this month.
Damp, cool weather brings out some large specimens who will reproduce at this time. Go after mature and baby slugs, and also look out for eggs. Whether you use slug bait, salt or beer, get your weapon ready. I use Escar-Go from Gardener's Supply, which is harmless to dogs and cats, and works slowly, allowing horrible things to crawl away out of my sight before they die.
Be sure evergreens have been well watered before the ground freezes. Soil that is too dry is a major reason some plants do not make it through the winter. Check especially close to the house, under eaves, where plants may dry out quickly.
Get rid of weeds before their flowers go to seed.
Tender plants with corms, rhizomes or bulbs such as dahlias, gladioli and canna need to be dug up and stored in a dry place until spring.
As you clean up, dispose of fallen apples, leaves with spots, blemished tomato and pepper fruits away from your garden. Many insect pests and disease organisms can survive the winter ready to renew their attacks next year.
Make notes! This is the most important hint of all.
Those ideas you have for next year seem to be impossible to forget, but take it from one who knows, they will fade if not written down.
Now, where did I put that notebook?