By Jim Borland Master Gardener
It's almost October. The days are noticeably shorter and the first frost may not be too far in the future. Most of the days are still warm and we'll be having some rain soon. Now is the time to plant spring bulbs and divide perennials, and if you have a fruit or vegetable patch, you're mostly busy reaping the rewards of harvest. This is a good time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials to give them time to develop strong root systems before next summer's dry weather. If you wait until spring to do your planting, they will need excessive watering to survive the baking summer. Existing perennials can be divided and/or transplanted. Congested clumps of perennials need dividing in order to encourage plenty of flowering next year and to increase your plant stock. Dig up the whole clump, divide it into smaller pieces and replant in groups. In your vegetable garden, pumpkins and winter squash should be harvested soon and moved into a cool, airy location where they can last for many months. From now on, regularly check your stored vegetable crops and remove anything showing signs of rot or damage to prevent the spread to healthy material. You can plant hardy lettuce crops, spinach, onions, broccoli, beets, carrots and other winter vegetables. Don't forget to aid next summer's effort by making a note of what has been growing, and where, in your summer vegetable garden. Time to clean up your garden debris. Remove all vegetable crop remains and fallen fruit and remove the dead annuals from your ornamental garden. Start raking fallen autumn leaves (be sure to remove leaves that may mat and suffocate your lawn). Start a compost pile with all the refuse. If you have a cool season lawn, fertilize grass in early October and finish your lawn repairs. Reseed the bare areas or lay new turf. Regular mowing should stop soon (raise the height of cut for the winter). Start moving houseplants indoors. Check for pests first and acclimate plants slowly if you can.
If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse, now is a good time to clean it out and wash it down. Getting the glass clean will allow more light through and cleaning the frame will remove pests looking for a good spot to spend the winter.