Martha’s To-Do List For October
- Begin planting spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, alliums, crocus, and hyacinth. (In cooler climates, cover them with mulch.)
- If you plan on forcing some of these indoors, place them in the refrigerator now.
- Mark dormant bulbs so they won’t be destroyed when the ground is prepared for spring planting.
- Apply two to three inches of compost to vegetable gardens to help replenish spent nutrients.
- Plant garlic.
- Harvest remaining pumpkins and gourds before the hard frost.
- Pick the last remaining apples to preserve and make cider.
- Plant some greens—it’s not too late to plant spinach and lettuce outdoors if you live in Zone 7 or higher, or in a cold frame if you live in Zones 5 or 6.
- Save packets of half-used seeds in airtight containers and store in a cool, dry place.
- If you live in a region where winter temperatures typically drop below 20°F, you will need to lift and store tender bulbs such as elephant ears, dahlias, begonia, gladiolus, and calla lilies after the first frost.
- Start moving your houseplants indoors. The best time to move them is when outside temperatures are similar to those indoors. Wash the leaves with an insecticidal soap to make sure they aren’t harboring any pests before you move them inside.
- Clean and disinfect planters before storing them. Soak pots in a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water, and then scrub with a stiff brush or scouring pad. Dry thoroughly before storing.
- Prepare outdoor furniture and grill for storage. Before you put away patio furnishings, clean them with water and a mild dishwashing liquid. Touch up paint if necessary.
- Have sprinkler systems drained and serviced. Flag any heads near driveways and walkways to prevent damage from snowplows.
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