October in the Herb Garden
October’s bright blue sky. Summer is walking the back roads of yesterday. I’ll miss her later on as the snow falls, but for right now my favorite season is here. Crisp apples, pumpkins and herbal tea, a good book. A reminder of all the chores I still must do before winter.
If you haven’t started a compost pile, this weekend would be a great time. Pull up all the spent vines and plants from your garden. Pile them in a corner, add some grass clippings and autumn leaves as they come tumbling down. Add some shredded newspaper, coffee grounds, tea bags, kitchen scraps to this pile, and keep turning it. By the middle of December, you’ll have compost ready to spread around roses or your herb plants. Three things herbs love- banana peels, crushed egg shells, and coffee grounds. If you don’t have room for a compost pile, then place the shells, peels and grounds around the plants. They’ll break down and feed the herbs through the winter months. They’ll act as a mulch as well.
While temperatures drop at this time of year, most soils remain warm, which encourages new growth.
Fall means fewer pests and disease problems that interfere with plant growth. October is the best month to establish perennial herbs, such as rosemary, sage, lemon balm and lavender. Always water well after planting herbs.
By planting herbs in October, when spring arrives, established roots begin new growth and develop faster than plants planted in the spring.
A seven-to nine- month head start before the hot, humid weather arrives increases plants’ chances of survival.
In addition to lower temperatures, increased rainfall provides a much more ideal environment for plant development.
Walk around the yard and garden this month. Make notes of what did well and what did not do so well. Dig in some peat moss or bagged compost in areas that have poor soil. Due to acid rain and pollution, most soils are on the acid side. If the soil is bare for winter, then spread some lime on top. The winter rains and snow will water the lime into the soil. A sweeter soil next spring may result in better plant production.
October should be the last month for taking cuttings. Do it soon.
Still time to plant garlic. Till or dig up an area that receives full sun, and plant the cloves, root down, tip up. Cover with an inch of soil, water well, and mulch lightly. A light mulch would be redwood chips, pine needles, finished compost.
Wash and dry garden tools and put them away for winter.
Bring in any houseplants still outside this week. Also, pot-up any culinary herbs for bringing indoors to a sunny window.
Check garden catalogs for new ideas and plants for next year.
Continue to dry herbs for teas and recipes. Label contents of each and store in glass jars.
All basil plants are not cold hardy. Most will turn dark and die when the temperatures dip below 32 degrees. So harvest and freeze or dry the leaves this month.
Bulbs should be planted by Halloween.
To keep pumpkins pretty and colorful for the entire month of October, keep the pumpkins in the shade. The autumn sun is still hot and will fade the bright orange color in a matter of weeks. This would include carved pumpkins as well.
If visitors to Mystical Magical Herbs have any questions or suggestions, Azul and I both have email addresses in the About Us section of the blog. We would be happy to answer any questions.
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