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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Oct. 2013 To-Do List: Western Mountains & High Plains

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MulchingNow is a good time to use a soil test kit or ask your local extension service if they’ll test your soil for you. To get a good sampling, mix together soil from various spots around your garden. Then add amendments as the test results indicate. Doing this in the fall gives the amendments time to “mellow,” or blend with your native soil, so the ground will be ready to plant next spring. Be sure to work the ground only when it is dry. Dig compost, manure, and shredded leaves into vegetable beds.

  • Plant garlic before the ground freezes. Break the bulbs into individual cloves, and plant the large cloves an inch deep in rich, loose soil. Save the small cloves for cooking.
  • Make sure your garden chemicals are stored where the temperatures won’t dip below 40 degrees F.
  • Prune weak, diseased, or broken limbs and branches from trees before winter storms bring them down, possibly causing damage to property or harm to people. Call a professional, if needed; safety first!
  • Dig and divide liriope (monkey grass). Pull the clumps apart, or cut them into three or four pieces, and replant at the same depth they were growing.
  • Rake and discard fallen leaves or other plant debris from underneath your roses. Add to your compost pile only if there are no signs of pests or diseases.
  • Prepare your cool-season grass for winter by fertilizing with a high-nitrogen formula. Feed the lawn while it’s still green, and before the ground freezes. The roots are still growing and will store the fertilizer as a “reserve.”
  • Keep your grass raked, so leaves don’t smother it. A mulching blade on your mower will shred the leaves so you can use them as mulch.
  • Avoid mowing your grass too low while the days get shorter. Longer grass helps prevent weed seeds from germinating and offers more leaf surface to produce carbohydrates.
  • If you have tender aquatic plants in an outdoor water bowl or garden, bring them in to overwinter. Put potted aquatics¬† in a waterproof tub with enough water to keep them damp.¬† Store the tub in a cool spot that doesn’t freeze.
  • Pull up weeds before they set and drop seeds. Don’t compost the weeds, in case seeds have already formed.
  • Prune deciduous plants after they drop their leaves and go dormant.
  • Water evergreens until the ground freezes. Their roots are still active. On warm winter days, water evergreen shrubs if rainfall is scarce.
  • Use netting around trees and shrubs to deter rabbits, deer, and rodents that have chewed on them in the past.
  • Sow seeds of annuals, including poppies, larkspur, cosmos, nasturtiums, cleome, nicotiana, and sweet alyssum. Some may bloom in early spring.
  • Lift tender bulbs with a garden fork and shake off any excess soil. Let them dry for a few days in a warm place, then store them in slightly moist wood shavings, sawdust, peat moss, or vermiculite.


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