October is a month for pumpkins, apples and yard cleanups. It’s also prime planting time for trees, shrubs and spring bulbs. Here’s a list of tips and daily chores to complete before settling in with a steaming mug of cider when the sun goes down.
1. For holiday blooms, start paperwhites now. Place bulbs, pointy end up, in a shallow container of gravel. Add just enough water to reach bulb bottoms.
2. Keep watering the lawn (and trees, shrubs and perennials).
3. Bring in houseplants, but first rinse leaves to avoid bringing insects indoors.
4. Plant dormant, one-year rhubarb crowns now, and come June, you’ll be baking delicious pies with strawberries.
5. Cover ponds with netting to prevent fallen leaves from mucking up the water.
6. Dig up, clean and store canna and begonia tubers. For dahlias, wait until just after frost has killed the foliage.
7. Start planting tulips, daffodils, snowdrops, hyacinths and Chionodoxa.
8. After curing potatoes in a humid, 50- to 60-degree spot for two weeks, store in a dry, dark, 40-degree spot for use all winter.
9. Protect new evergreens by wrapping with burlap.
10. Use the last of the tomatoes and basil, and put up a pot of sauce for a comforting Columbus Day supper.
11. Separate an organic garlic bulb into cloves, but don’t peel. Plant cloves pointy end up in a prepared bed for harvesting next June.
12. Replace summer annuals with pansies; they’ll return in spring.
13. Plant new trees and shrubs now and keep well-watered.
14. Prepare a bed for peas and spinach so you can sow seeds in early spring.
15. Today is the average first frost date on Long Island. Though it can hit later, play it safe and bring in tender plants and crops.
16. Empty, clean and store terra cotta pots. If left outdoors, the pots will crack from the freeze-thaw cycles of winter.
17. Disinfect tomato cages and plant stakes with a 10 percent bleach solution and store them for the winter.
18. Plant clover in cleared vegetable beds and apply fast-release fertilizer. Turn under before it goes to seed in spring — at least two weeks before planting new crops — for naturally nitrogen-rich soil.
19. Mulch carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks and parsley after frost hits and leave them in the garden for harvesting well into winter.
20. Don’t worry if you notice the inner needles on evergreen branches turning brown; the oldest ones do that before shedding.
21. You can safely move deciduous trees and shrubs once they’ve dropped their leaves.
22. Remove dead or broken tree branches now so they don’t create a hazard during winter storms.
23. Cut herbaceous peonies all the way back to the ground — and plant new ones.
24. Rake and clean up perennial beds. Place diseased plant parts in the trash.
25. Divide overgrown spring- and summer-blooming perennials.
26. Clean up around roses, but don’t fertilize. You can cut back long whips, but save the real pruning for spring.
27. Take advantage of late-season sales on perennials.
28. Wait until spring to cut back black-eyed Susans and coneflowers; the birds will feast on their seed heads all winter.
29. Harvest chards, greens and kale.
30. Don’t apply mulch until the ground freezes.
31. Go on a foliage forage and attach collected leaves to pumpkins with straight pins to create a hairdo for your jack-o’-lantern.