October is all about apples and bulbs, pumpkins and final harvests, raking — and more raking. Follow this day-by-day list of chores to keep your garden on track. When you’re done, reward yourself with mulled cider as you hand out treats to the tricksters in your neighborhood.
1. Replace summer annuals with pansies. They'll bloom all fall and return in spring.
2. Cure potatoes in a humid, 50- to 60-degree spot for two weeks; then store in a dry, dark, 40-degree spot for use all winter.
3. Continue watering plants and trees, especially evergreens.
4. Pick the last fruit from trees and clear faded vegetable plants, leaving Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower to be harvested through fall.
5. Plant new trees and shrubs. If they come bare root, soak roots in water for eight hours before planting.
6. Plant bulbs in pots to grow indoors. They’ll bloom earlier than they would outdoors, and your winter self will thank you.
7. Plant dormant, one-year rhubarb crowns for June harvest.
8. It’s time to plant perennials. They’ll fade soon, but they’ll be back to brighten your garden next year.
9. For holiday blooms, start paperwhites. Place bulbs, pointy end up, in a shallow bowl of gravel with just enough water to reach bulb bottoms.
10. Plant shallots in prepared beds, just 2 inches below soil.
11. It’s National Coming Out Day. Plant a rainbow of tulips, daffodils, snowdrops, hyacinths and Chionodoxa. You can keep planting until the ground freezes.
12. Cover ponds with netting to keep out fallen leaves.
13. To keep it healthy, continue mowing the grass until it stops growing.
14. Empty, clean, dry and store terra-cotta pots indoors. Leave them out, and they'll crack in the cold.
15. Today is the average first frost date on Long Island. Play it safe and bring in remaining tender plants and crops.
16. If you mulch carrots, leeks, parsley and Jerusalem artichokes after the first frost, they’ll produce well into winter.
17. Rake and clean up perennial beds. Discard diseased plant parts in the trash and compost the rest.
18. Clear vegetable beds, then till compost, manure and lime into the soil.
19. Follow nature’s cue: Plant roses when tree leaves begin changing color.
20. If any tree branches are dead or broken, prune them now, lest they break free in winter winds and cause damage or injury.
21. Remove “mummies” (shriveled fruit) from tree branches to help prevent disease.
22. If spring- or summer-blooming perennials are overgrown, dig up, divide and replant them now.
23. Disinfect tomato cages and stakes with a 10 percent bleach, 90 percent water solution, then store for the winter.
24. Clean up around roses and cut back long whips, but save the real pruning for spring. Apply potassium to soil for winter fortification (but don’t use nitrogen).
25. Leave faded black-eyed Susans and coneflowers in the garden so their seeds can feed the birds over winter.
26. Wait until deciduous trees and shrubs lose their leaves before relocating them.
27. Mulch asparagus beds with 3 inches of well-rotted manure.
28. Don’t apply winter mulch until the ground freezes.
29. Harvest chards, greens and kale.
30. Install wire guards around young fruit trees to protect against mouse and rabbit damage.
31. It’s Halloween! Show off your garden to the neighborhood ghosts and goblins.