Lets Get Gardening: October 2018

The Old Farmers Almanac is saying that we can expect to have snow the week of Halloween!

Sorry about that. I had just read that little tidbit, and couldn’t contain myself! Although I was certainly ready to see the end of the hot, humid weather, I am not ready to see snow. I would like a whole lot of nice, crisp, autumn days before we get into that nonsense. Fortunately, they are also still saying that the winter will be warmer than usual – albeit wetter, which unfortunately does likely mean we’re in for some snow. The good news is that for now, the temperatures are supposed to go up just a little bit, so there’s no snow (or even frost) in the forecast for a while. Whew!


October Featured Garden Product: Spring-blooming Bulbs

Allium – Allium generally bloom in late spring and early summer. Often called “Dr.  Seuss” flowers, the larger varieties grow to 3 feet tall or more, with tall stems topped with softball-sized flowers that come in purples, pinks, yellows, whites, and blues.

Crocus – Often the first bloomers in the spring, crocus are true optimists. They are often found in bloom with snow on them.

Daffodils – Daffodils are early spring bloomers that come in yellows, whites, oranges, and pinks. These cheerful beauties are easy to grow – they even tolerate partial shade – and are not favorites of squirrels, rabbits, or deer.

Hyacinths – A highly-scented flower that is often grown indoors, but can also be grown outdoors (outdoors, they look best when grown in groupings of 5 to 9 plants). Hyacinths come in a wide array of colors, and generally bloom at the same time as late-blooming daffodils and early-blooming tulips.

Muscari – Also called grape hyacinth, these little lovelies are generally found in various shades of blue, though white is also sometimes available. Muscari look best when planted in large groupings, and will multiply year after year.

Tulips – Nothing says spring like tulips in bloom! Tulips are available in a multitude of colors, shapes, and sizes.  Different varieties will bloom from April to June. Tulips are one of the most favored things in the garden for various animals.

October is the month for planting bulbs that will bloom in the spring. Wait until we have had a few frosts, but be sure to plant them before the ground freezes. Most bulbs will need full sun to grow well, so pick a spot that gets good sun in the spring and also has good drainage. When choosing bulbs, pick the largest ones in the box – bigger bulbs of the same variety will generally produce bigger flowers. Also be sure to choose ones that are firm to the touch, as softness may be a sign of decay or disease. Generally, bulbs should be planted 3 times as deep as the size of the bulb, with the pointy side up, covered with soil, and watered well. After the ground freezes, pile on a deep layer of mulch to keep the ground temperature even throughout the winter – you don’t want a warm-up to cause the ground to heave and push your bulbs up out of the soil.

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

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for seasonal gardening advice and recommendations for your garden, yard, and bird feeding. In this month’s issue:

October is the time to start getting things in your yard and gardens ready for winter. We are pretty much guaranteed to have frost by about the 20th of the month, and as I mentioned above, some people are even calling for snow by the end of the month. Getting some of your outdoor chores done now will mean you won’t find yourself having to be out there in the bitter cold doing them.

In the vegetable garden:

  • It’s time to pull most things from the garden, if you haven’t already. Throw out or burn anything that is diseased, but compost as much as you can.
  • Some things, like kale, cabbage, broccoli, peas, radishes, lettuces, and spinach can stay in a bit longer, but be sure to keep row covers handy in case of a sudden dip in temperatures, especially for the lettuce.
  • Once we have had a frost or two, it’s time to plant garlic! Garlic gets planted in much the same way as spring-blooming bulbs in Michigan (see above).
  • If you still have green tomatoes in your garden, the likelihood is that they aren’t going to ripen on their own at this point. However, there are a few ways you can try to help them ripen. This article from GrowVeg.com explains what to do.
  • Some herbs, such as thyme and sage, will over-winter in your veggie garden. Once we have gotten some frost, cut them back and give them a thick layer of mulch.
  • Take some time now to write down your thoughts about how things went with your garden this year. Making notes now will help you remember what to do the same or differently next spring.

In the flower garden:

  • Mums, asters, and pansies are in their full glory and make for great fall color. We have been selling them all quickly, and may be down to the last of them in the next week or two, so get them while you can.
  • This is last call for dividing and transplanting perennials. Get those tasks taken care of now, so your plants have some time to get roots down before the cold sets in.
  • Once the ground freezes, mulch your perennials really well. Just like with the herbs overwintering in your veggie garden, mulch will help ensure that your flowers make it through the winter.
  • I like to leave my ornamental grasses and other perennials up for the winter and cut them back in  early spring, while others like to cut them back in the fall. Either is OK, but leaving them up gives you some winter interest, and potentially gives wildlife a place to hide from the weather (I guess whether you cut back now or in spring might depend on how you feel about that last part!). Leaving seed heads through the winter can also provide a source of food for birds.



Trees & Shrubs:

  • Keep watering your trees and shrubs if we aren’t getting at least an inch of rain each week. The very dry summer we had likely stressed your trees, unless you were vigilant about watering them, and winter will only make it worse – especially if they go into the winter dry.
  • There is still time to get trees and shrubs planted, but do this sooner rather than later. As with perennials, mulch them well, and keep them watered.
  • There are three really good options for dealing with fallen leaves that can help your yard and/or gardens. 1. Mow them up and mulch them into your lawn. 2. Shred them (a mower works well for this) and use them for mulching your perennials and trees/shrubs 3. Create leaf mold. Fine Gardening has a great article on what leaf mold is and how to create and use it.




Grass is still growing – just a little more slowly these days – so keep mowing until we get a killing frost. Mulch the clippings (and the leaves) into the lawn to help add nutrients back into the ground, which in turn will help feed the lawn. If you do bag your clippings, add them to your compost pile.


  • If you stopped feeding the birds for the summer, start again now. The extra protein and fat will help migrating birds as they journey from their summer breeding grounds to their winter homes. Keep your hummingbird feeders out for a little while yet, too.
  • Keep your bird baths clean and full, too, and consider adding a heater this year, if you haven’t already. Water sources for the birds get scarcer as the temperatures go down, and they need water just as much as food.

Read More

More info on all of these tips can be found in our monthly newsletter: Read the October 2018 issue of Let’s Get Gardening

Store News & Specials

  • Pumpkin Day at The Garden Mill! Saturday, October 20, 2018 – 11:00 am to 2:00 pm Join us for a pumpkin decorating party! We’ll provide the pumpkins and decorating supplies – you supply imagination and enthusiasm. The result: a charming, spooky, or hilarious jack-o-lantern to take home. Pumpkins and decorations are free. Limit one per person. Open to adults and supervised children ages 3+. While supplies last. No registration required.
  • 13th Annual Wine, Women & Shopping Saturday, November 10, 2018 – 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Mark your calendars now, and join us for Chelsea’s 13th Annual Wine, Women & Shopping on Saturday, November 10th!  Look under “events” on our Facebook page for more information.
  • $10 off $50 purchase coupon