October is a favorite month for many people, including gardeners. As the weather turns cooler, it’s time to head back out to the garden and start planting the fall garden. And while some may think a fall vegetable garden is limited to greens, you’d be wrong! There are many things to plant in the fall, particularly October that will reap many benefits come next spring.
What to Plant in the Garden this October
Several flower and food plants can be planted in October so the garden season can be extended until winter. And since it’s so much cooler outside, it’s a pleasant time of year to garden! Depending on plant choices and your zone, you can even extend the garden season throughout the winter. Select some of these fall-favorite plants and keep your garden growing!
Fall Flower Bulbs and Food Bulbs
Flower bulbs that bloom in winter or spring should be planted in October, so they can go through their required cold spell. Planting flower bulbs doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, check out my article on 8 Tips for Planting Bulbs this Fall to get some helpful tips and advice.
Specifically, what kind of bulbs do well to be planted in October? If you’re in an area with cold or cool winters, Snowdrops are beautiful winter blooming flowers. The bulbs need to be planted in October, but snowdrops will not tolerate warm or mild winters, so those in zones 8b and up will be out of luck. But not to worry, Hyacinths, tulips, peonies, and daffodils all bloom in spring and the bulbs should be planted in fall. So, take your pick, and arrange your bulbs to your liking. Come the spring, you’ll have beds full of color!
Garlic is another bulb that needs to go into the ground before the first frost. This is due to the long growing season that garlic requires. But it’s also an incredibly easy crop to grow, since pests are deterred by the strong smell! Find out How to Grow Garlic in my full post.
Fall and Winter Garden Cover Crop
When nothing is growing in the garden, soil becomes compacted and can erode. Planting a winter cover crop in October will protect soil and add nutrients, so the soil will be fertile and ready for spring planting.
Kale, collard, rutabaga, or turnips are some good options for what to plant in October as cover crops. Sow seeds thickly so you can harvest some of the green to eat. Come spring, gardeners can cut the cover crop and turn it back into the soil. Cover crops are also a great option if you’d like to take the fall and winter “off” of gardening. You can still harvest some for your crop, but you’re really working to replenish the soil for spring. Here’s last year’s collard cover crop growing in one of our raised beds.
Cool Season Vegetables
Several vegetables grow better in the cool fall weather and will produce a harvest before winter. Plant vegetables in October that mature quickly, like radishes, carrots (some varieties), kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage. (And if those pesky cabbage moths/butterflies give you trouble, check out my article on Getting Rid of Cabbage Worms.)
Radishes and carrots are root vegetables that help to loosen the garden soil, so even if you don’t like to eat them, it helps prevent soil compaction if you plant them. The root vegetables can always be fed to the chickens or added to the compost pile.
Plant Blueberry Bushes in Fall
A blueberry bush needs to go through a cold period after planting so it will have time to establish a strong root system before it has to produce berries in the spring. Plant blueberry bushes in a sunny location in October for an abundant harvest in spring. The exception to this may be if you’re planning to plant blueberries in containers. If planting in containers, just be very aware of your zone and if it will be too cold for a blueberry bush that isn’t in the ground.
Transplant Flowers in the Fall
Keep color in the landscape all winter by planting some winter-blooming flowers in October. Plant pansies, hellebores, and winter jasmine this month for winter blooms.
Also, divide and transplant hosta and other flowering plants that have outgrown their space in October so their root system can adjust to their new home before spring growing season. This is one of my favorite things to do in the fall. It’s like getting plants for free, right?
Sow Grass Seed
Grass seeds germinate better if they go through a cold period. Over-seed old lawns and start new ones from seed in October for a beautiful lawn next year. The fall/winter is also a great time to do any weed prevention on your lawn. This was something that was discussed by our turf instructor in my Master Gardener class. His advice was using a product of your choosing (try Gardens Alive for a natural option) in the fall to get your yard ready for spring and to significantly reduce weeds that will try to pop up.
So, despite your zone, there are plenty of October garden chores to tackle, and you have the benefit of cooler temps, hopefully! October 1st is tomorrow, and it was 94 degrees today. That is unusually warm, so I’m definitely ready to get my garlic in the ground and get lots of salad greens planted in my beds.
Have a great week, and please let me know below what other Fall garden chores you take care of in October!