Taking an environmentally sensitive approach to pest management


Missouri Environment & Garden



AUTHOR

Donna Aufdenberg
University of Missouri Extension
(573) 243-3581
aufdenbergd@missouri.edu

Kate Kammler
University of Missouri Extension
(573) 883-3548
kammlerk@missouri.edu

Kathi Mecham
University of Missouri Extension
(660) 542-1792
mechamk@missouri.edu

October Gardening Tips

Donna Aufdenberg
University of Missouri Extension
(573) 243-3581
aufdenbergd@missouri.edu

Kate Kammler
University of Missouri Extension
(573) 883-3548
kammlerk@missouri.edu

Kathi Mecham
University of Missouri Extension
(660) 542-1792
mechamk@missouri.edu

Published: September 20, 2021



  • Take time to enjoy the fall colors in the landscape!
  • Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs.
  • Spring bulbs can be planted among groundcovers and perennials. As these plants grow in the spring, they will hide the dying bulb foliage.
  • Dig cannas, caladiums, elephant ears, gladiolus and dahlias after frost nips their foliage. Allow to dry before storage. Store in a dark, cool, dry place.
  • Clean up around your perennial flowers, such as rose and peony. If left on the ground, leaves and stems can harbor diseases and provide convenient places for pests to spend the winter.  
  • As you clean out the flowerbeds, mark the spots where late emerging perennials will come up next spring to avoid damaging them while working in the beds.
  • Prune dead and diseased branches from trees and shrubs while you can still identify them easily.
  • If a tree or shrub had foliar disease problems, remove leaves and dispose of them because old fallen leaves can harbor disease pathogens.
  • Fall needle shed of pines is normal. Don't panic if your pine is yellowing and needles start to fall. It will come out of it.
  • Put tree guards on young trees to protect against rabbits and deer.  
  • Leaves can be beneficial to the garden and should not be burned or discarded. Consider using as a mulch or adding to your compost pile.
  • If soils are dry, watering shrubs and trees.
  • Transplant deciduous trees and shrubs after leaf drop.
  • If fertilizer is required for trees, fertilizer can be applied now through April. Fertilizing is best done according to a soil test. For more information, see MU Guide G6865 https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6865.
  • Delay fall mulching until the ground has cooled.

  • Clean up and discard garden debris after frost especially tomato and pepper plants and squash vines that may have had diseased foliage.
  • Plant radishes, lettuce and spinach for late harvest. Harvest can continue until spring if winter is mild enough or by season extension techniques such as a low tunnel, cold frame or hot bed.
  • Harvest crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, and sweet potatoes before frost or cover with blankets to protect them from light frost.
  • Green tomatoes can be harvested before frost and ripened indoors. Individually wrap fruits in newspaper to keep them for several weeks.
  • Finish cleaning up garden areas. Compost only non-diseased foliage and plants. Remove all tomato cages and stakes.
  • Harvest winter squash and pumpkins with 2 to 3 inches of stem for better storage.

  • Look for ripened persimmons after the first frost has occurred.
  • Protect young fruit trees against mice and rabbits with wire guards around the trunks of young fruit trees.
  • Store apples in a cool, dry place or a refrigerator in perforated sacks for good air circulation.
  • Sanitation is important. Clean up fruit plantings after harvest. Discard fallen fruit and diseased debris.
  • Finish walnut and hickory harvest in October. If harvest is delayed into November, walnuts can develop a bad flavor or squirrels will get them.

  • Mow at regular heights until growth stops.
  • Apply lime if soil test indicates need.
  • Fertilize moderately after cool days slow leaf growth. Nutrients at this time will encourage root growth and thickening of turf. Soluble nitrogen fertilizers are used more efficiently by turf in late fall.
  • Keep leaves from packing and smothering grass.
  • Be sure turf goes into winter with moist — not wet — soil.
  • Recondition lawn mower. Store mower with clean oil and empty fuel tank.
  • Use soluble fertilizer or calcium chloride instead of salt for melting winter ice.
  • Leaves should not be left to cover and smother the lawn surface. If feasible, leaves from lawns can be mulched in to the turfgrass without adverse effect - https://ipm.missouri.edu/meg/2013/10/Want-to-reduce-waste-and-time-Try-mowing-leaves-rather-than-removal/. Leaves may also be composted or tilled into a garden as a source of organic matter.
  • Fall is the time to control certain broadleaf weeds in the lawn including chickweed, white clover, dandelion, wild onion and plantain.

  • Fall is a good time to get soil tested and to add manure, compost or leaf mold to garden soils for increasing organic matter content.
  • Fall foliage color season begins. By the third week of October, we should be in peak fall color.

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REVISED: September 20, 2021