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LifestyleColumnistsJessica Damiano

What to do in the garden in October on Long Island

A pile of pumpkins on display at a

A pile of pumpkins on display at a market. Photo Credit: Getty Images/landbysea

Cooling temperatures typically provide perfect gardening weather in October, and it’s a good thing because there’s plenty to do. While you’re replacing fading annuals with ornamental kale, cabbages and mums (remember, chrysanthemums are perennial!), don’t forget to order and plant spring bulbs — if you haven’t already. Your future self will thank you. Here are 31 other tips and chores to tackle, one for each day of the month.

1. Plant pansies. They bloom through frost — and return for a second act in spring.

2. Growth has slowed, but plants and trees, especially evergreens, still need water, so don’t forget them.

3. If any green tomatoes remain on the vine, slice and dredge them in beaten eggs, then cornmeal, and fry for a delicious side dish or snack.

4. Soak roots of bare-root trees and shrubs in water for eight hours before planting.

5. Harvest potatoes and cure in a humid, 50- to 60-degree spot for two weeks; then store at 40 degrees in a dark, dry spot.

6. To maximize winter blooming, leave potted flowering plants like azaleas, Christmas cactus and kalanchoe outdoors until nighttime temperatures drop to 40 degrees.

7. Protect ponds from falling leaves and debris by covering with netting.

8. When local tree foliage starts to change color, it’s time to plant roses.

9. Plant dormant, one-year rhubarb crowns now to harvest in June, just in time to make strawberry pie.

10. Plant perennials now. They will likely fade quickly, but will hit the ground running in spring.

11. Plan now for holiday blooms: Place paperwhite bulbs, pointy end up, in a shallow bowl of pebbles, keeping the water level at bulb bottoms.

12. Plant shallots 2 inches deep in prepared beds.

13. Applesauce, pies and baked apples! Spend the day putting your orchard-picked fruit to good use.

14. Something for everyone: Feast on garden tomato-basil sauce for Columbus Day, roasted butternut squash for Indigenous Peoples Day, or spiced cabbage in honor of Leif Erikson.

15. Today is the average first frost day on Long Island, so bring in the last of your tender plants and harvest remaining crops. It’s also the last day to seed the lawn.

16. Inspect trees for shriveled fruit, or “mummies,” and remove and discard to prevent disease.

17. Clear beds of summer crop plants, turn soil, and incorporate compost, manure and dolomitic lime to prime them for spring planting.

18. Remember to keep watering the lawn in the absence of rainfall.

19. Wash, dry and store terra-cotta pots indoors or they’ll likely crack over winter.

20. Cut yellowing asparagus foliage down to 2 inches, and mulch with 3 inches of well-rotted manure.

21. Cut fruiting raspberry canes back, leaving only new green canes for next year.

22. Protect newly planted evergreens with a burlap wrap.

23. Clear out perennial beds and discard diseased plant parts. Compost the rest.

24. Inspect trees for broken and damaged branches and remove them now to prevent damage or injury during windy winter storms.

25. Disinfect tomato cages and plant supports with a 90 percent water, 10 percent bleach solution and store for winter.

26. Be vigilant about raking fallen leaves or you’ll invite fungal diseases, slugs and other pests to move in. Or mow over them, then use them as mulch to enrich the soil.

27. Dig up, divide and relocate overgrown spring-blooming perennials.

28. Dig up and store dahlias after their foliage has browned.

29. Mulch carrots, leeks, parsley and Jerusalem artichokes after the first frost to extend their season into winter.

30. Harvest greens like Swiss chard and kale.

31. Welcome trick-or-treaters with night-blooming evening primrose, moonflower or sweet nicotiana.

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