Let’s Get Gardening: October 2017

What kind of weird September weather was that?! We had late-September weather at the beginning of the month and more like July weather towards the end. Late September should be a time for cool-temperature plants to be happily growing and producing, but the lettuces that I planted in late August suffered from the excessive heat, and some of my arugula bolted! On the other hand, my tomato plants produced like crazy, as did my peppers and beans. That party seems to be pretty much over now though, and we seem to be getting back to normal temps, which means freezing temps can’t be too far off. These temperatures are much more conducive to getting work done outside than what we had last week, but I highly recommend getting your fall clean-up chores done sooner rather than later – in spite of the prediction for another short warm-up this week, we will be seeing cold temperatures before too long!


October’s Featured Garden Product: Radius Tools

This month’s featured product is actually a line of products from an Ann Arbor based company – Radius Garden. If you’ve been in the store looking for tools, it’s likely you’ve heard me talk about this line. There are many reasons I like them, including the fact that they are sturdy and dependable. The biggest reason though, is that they are designed to make gardening easier on you. Their hand tools – trowels, cultivators, transplanters, and weeders – have handles that put your hands and wrists in a more comfortable, neutral position, which puts less stress on them. The long tools – shovels spades, weeders, forks, etc. – feature an “O” handle that makes them easier and safer to use.

I started using their tools years ago, because I had developed pain in my hands and wrists (arthritis in my thumb joints from too many years of pulling weeds, and carpal tunnel syndrome in my writs from too much time on the computer). I found their tools to be much more comfortable to use, which allowed me to spend more time working in my gardens without being in excruciating pain. Radius Garden’s motto is “Garden More, Hurt Less” which is something I can totally get behind. Their tools are well-built, and are backed by a lifetime warranty. If you haven’t tried them, you really should!

In this month’s issue of Let’s Get Gardening

October is a good month for cleaning up and getting ready for winter, but there’s also still time for planting many things, as long as you do it earlier in the month.

Vegetable Garden:

  • In your veggie garden, keep row covers handy for frost
  • After harvesting, pull out and compost plants, unless they have signs of disease
  • After cleaning out your garden, do a soil test to see what nutrients you should add to give your spring plants a healthy start
  • October is ideal for planting garlic bulbs
  • Take notes of what went right, what went wrong, what you’d like to do differently, and what you want to make sure to do again.

Flower Garden:

  • Plant bulbs. Spring-blooming bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, and alliums, planted now.
  • Divide and transplant perennials, but don’t wait too long.
  • When your perennials have stopped blooming, it’s time to decide whether or not to cut them back. There are reasons to do so for some plants, and reasons to consider not doing so.
  • Once your summer-blooming annuals have given their all, toss them on the compost pile so they can help add nutrition to next year’s plants.

Trees and shrubs:

  • New tree and shrub planting should be done early this month.
  • Keep watering all trees and shrubs up until the ground freezes, if nature isn’t providing at least an inch of rain each week.
  • If the mulch on your trees and shrubs is in need of replenishing, wait until the ground freezes to add more.


  • Keep mowing as long as the grass is growing, which will be until we get some killing frosts – but lower the height to about 2 inches.
  • While you’re mowing your lawn, mow up the leaves and leave them as mulch
  • If the leaves on your trees are showing signs of disease, as one of my maples is, you can help to reduce the chances of your trees having problems again next year by raking up and burning the leaves or otherwise removing them from the property.
  • One last chore to do before you let the garden and yard go for the winter – clean your tools before putting them away. Doing so will help your tools last longer and make them work better for you.


  • If you stopped feeding the birds for the summer, do start again now! Migrating birds will be grateful for the extra protein and fat
  • Keep your bird baths clean and full, too, and consider adding a heater this year.

Read the October 2017 issue of Let’s Get Gardening

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