Seasonal Tips for Gardening Zones October-November 2003

Carol Mack shares important seasonal tips for gardening zones in New England/Maritime Canada, Mid-Atlantic, Southern Interior, the Gulf Coast, Central/Midwest, North Central and Rockies, Pacific Northwest and the Southwest.

| October/November 2003

  • Timely gardening tips for where you live.
    Timely gardening tips for where you live.

  • Timely gardening tips for where you live.

Learn about current October and November seasonal tips for gardening zones in the U.S.

New England/Maritime Canada Gardening

The frost is on the pumpkins, unless you were diligent enough to harvest them first. Squash and pumpkins need to cure or harden their skins for winter storage. Place them off the ground, in full sun, and cover them with a tarp at night to protect against freezing; they are cured when a thumbnail cannot pierce their skin. Now's also the time to plant garlic, clean up the garden refuse and build compost piles. And, it's time to plant some fall flower bulbs, too: A few minutes of work now will mean weeks of much-needed color in spring. Flower bulbs should be planted at a depth equal to three times the height of the bulb. If you've had trouble with skunks and pets digging up your bulbs in the past, try substituting soybean or alfalfa meal for the usual bone meal fertilizer, or covering the newly disturbed soil of the bulb plot with mulch and then chicken wire secured with natural rocks or, more discretely, U-shaped nails pushed into the ground with foot pressure.

Mid-Atlantic Gardening

Before frost hits, have your plan in place. Decide what to protect — and store everything else indoors. Apple boxes with the wavy dividers or cardboard egg cartons work well for storing green tomatoes. Inspect tomatoes every week, bringing the good ones to the kitchen and the bad ones to the chickens or pigs. Chop surplus sweet peppers, freeze on a cookie sheet and transfer to freezer bags. Dig up your cabbage heads (root and all) and put them back into the ground upside down in the holes created by their root balls. Protect carrots, beets and other root crops with fabric row covers. They will grow sweeter every day until the last one (which children have been known to fight over) is pulled. Move small lettuces and greens directly into cold frames and put fabric row covers over the larger ones. Roll up your hoses, take down your tomato cages and prepare for the start of next year's growing season.

Southern Interior Gardening

By now, the gardeners who planned ahead in late summer will be enjoying their bounty of delicious cool-season crops, including lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and a variety of carrots. If not, then it's time to mark a reminder on the calendar for next year. It's never too early to start getting the soil ready for next year, and October and November offer ample opportunity to do so. Before any of those hard freezes hit, turn the soil over in the garden or work in some material to help break up heavy soils. Or try planting a nitrogen-producing cover crop, including clover or soybeans, to be turned into the soil in spring. There's also still time to get spring-flowering bulbs into the ground. Be sure to plant some crocus in a prominent spot, so you can enjoy a colorful break from the winter blues.

Gulf Coast Gardening

Think onions! It's time to plant short-day varieties from seed, including "1015," "Grano," "'Granex" and "Supersweet." In fact, plant the whole onion family — LSU multiplying shallots, garlic (soft-neck varieties), chives, Chinese chives and leeks. But wait until January to set out transplants for bulbing onions to keep them from bolting to seed in the spring. Almost every cool-season vegetable and herb you can think of should be planted now. As stonefruit (peaches, plums and nectarines) trees begin to drop leaves and show signs of dormancy, apply a copper fungicide to reduce bacterial canker infection. The copper will cause the trees to defoliate, but by late November it's time for them to go dormant anyway. Hold off on pruning until the trees are fully dormant, in December and January. And don't forget to put in a few pansies, violas, snapdragons, dianthus, larkspur and cornflowers. They are almost maintenance-free in the cool-season flower garden.

Central/Midwest Gardening

Time to put up that harvest, so you can enjoy your hard summer work throughout the long winter months. As you pick the last apples, don't be bothered by fungus blotches and flyspecks that sometimes appear on the fruit under humid weather conditions; they are only skin deep and can be easily scrubbed away in the kitchen. For a bumper crop of strawberries next year, mulch the plants with several inches of straw or well-chopped cornstalks in late fall. Mulch them after the plants have been exposed to some cold temperatures, to be sure they have hardened off properly. A winter mulch protects against damage from repeated freezing and thawing, which helps give the strawberry plants a head start in the spring. In the tomato patch, fall cleanup is especially important if your plants suffered from Septoria leaf spot or other fungal blights. Rotating tomato planting areas and keeping the tomato plants themselves well-watered and fertilized also will help increase their resistance to these diseases.


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