What to do in your garden in October
Bulb covers. To mark the spots where you planted bulbs soyou won't dig them up while planting around them, put in annualsdirectly over them. (The annuals will also help hide the bulbs'yellowing foliage later.) Good choices include forget-me-nots,lobelia, dwarf snapdragons, sweet alyssum, and violas.
Cool-season crops. In frost-free areas, plant broccoli,brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and other cole crops.Before planting, remove a few bottom leaves from seedlings, thenplant deeply ― up to the leaves ― as you would atomato. Sow seeds or plant seedlings of arugula, beets, carrots,celery, cilantro, lettuce, onions, parsley, parsnips, peas,radishes, rutabagas, spinach, and turnips.
Daylilies. These flowers outperform roses if you select theright varieties. The following cultivars are guaranteed to put on astrong fall show: yellow 'Bitsy'; red 'Frankly Scarlet' and 'HotLips'; and and orange 'Leebea Orange Crush' or 'Terra CottaBaby'.
Shallots. This gourmet crop is a cinch to grow. Shallotstaste like a cross between onions and garlic but are sweeter thanboth. A good source for bulbs is Territorial Seed Company (www.territorialseed.comor 541/942-9547).
Spring bulbs. Continue to plant anemones, babiana,daffodils, Dutch irises, freesia, ipheion, ixia, ranunculus,sparaxis, and watsonia.
Divide tubers and bulbs. If agapanthus, callas, clivia,daylilies, and irises have become overcrowded and are not bloomingwell, it's probably time to dig and divide them. Use a spading forkto lift; then pull or cut each clump into sections with a sharpknife, pruning shears, or shovel.
Feed roses for final bloom. If you deadhead and fertilizeroses after their fall bloom, you can enjoy a bloom cycle aroundthe winter holidays. Or give these hardworking shrubs an early restand let them form hips, which also look wonderful in bouquets.
Prune tropicals. Bird of paradise, canna, and ginger willsoon slow their growth for winter. Cut stems that have alreadyflowered to the ground.
Reset sprinklers. Once weather cools, adjust sprinklersettings to irrigate for the same length of time, but increase thenumber of days between waterings.
Guard against snails and slugs. Slip collars or sleevesaround vulnerable young vegetable seedlings or new annuals, and putcopper strips around raised beds. Or handpick slugs and snailsearly in the morning; you'll find them hiding out amidststrappy-leafed plants like agapanthus, daylilies, and New Zealandflax. If you prefer to use bait, choose an iron phosphate productlike Sluggo, which won't harm pets or wildlife.
Protect cabbage crops. Cabbage loopers ― small, greencaterpillars ― can do quick damage to broccoli, cabbage, andkale seedlings. To keep cabbage looper butterflies from laying eggson these and other cole crops, cover plants with floating rowcovers immediately after planting. Or dust leaves with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which kills the youngcaterpillar larvae.