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October is the pergect time for gardening chores

The Harrodsburg Herald of Harrodsburg, Kentucky

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Good Gardening & Muck More

October has always been the time of year when I feel that now I have time to do some of the gardening chores that I never seem to get around to. If you don't have a compost pile, this is a great time to start one. A simple one can be made by scraping all the grass in a square and then put a lot of leaves on that square, about a foot thick, and that is a start. You know the rest. I always like to have at least two compost piles.

It is also time to bring in those tomato plants. Just pull up the whole plant carefully so the tomatoes don't fall off. Also shake the plant a bit to be sure there aren't any little white flies in it. Now, hang each plant on a large nail in your basement or in a garden shed and wait for your tomatoes to ripen.

You can pick the ripest ones to ripen in about a week. The large green ones can be placed in a single layer on newspaper in an unused room to ripen a little slower. It is remarkable how wonderfully those tomatoes taste in fall and winter. Some folks wrap each green tomato in newspaper and others place them in a Styrofoam cooler with a couple of apples thrown in.

The frost will soon be on the pumpkins and also the turnip greens, which is something Kentuckians know from childhood. This is the time of year when my grandmother cooked up a big kettle full of those greens with a chunk of jowl. I didn't appreciate that dish then but sure do now. But, alas, now I have neither the big iron pot or the turnip greens.

It's time to bring your houseplants inside for the winter. I always like to hose them off with a gentle spray to rid them of dust. They should not be exposed to temperatures of 55 degrees or lower.

If one seems too big for its pot, it needs repotting. Before it settles down for a long winter. Choose a pot that is about one inch bigger than the present one. Just remember that if the roots can be seen coming through the hole in the bottom of the pot, it needs repotting now.

The leaves are beginning to fall here in Western Kentucky and soon all will be on the ground but the one stubborn Maple, which holds on till really cold weather, long after all other leaves have fallen. I have not figured that out. Don't waste those leaves. They have so many uses. Put them through a chipper if you have one and use them for mulch. Or use them as a walkway in a vegetable garden. Or spread them over the vegetable garden to be turned under in spring. But never leave any leaves on your perennial beds.

In my many years of gardening, I have learned many things. Some things I have learned from books, some from listening to older gardeners and many things I learned by trial and error. One of the latter lessons has been that I have better results in planting perennials if I plant in fall rather than spring when the nurseries are all trying to sell you plants.

If some plant needs to be moved, I find that moving it in fall is better than in spring. This is not a new idea because I have found the idea in perennial books. So I didn't invent it.

Now, the reason it works best is that fall planting gets the plant off to a running start. When planted in spring, plants are trying to grow new roots at a time when the top of the plant is calling for new growth. This one thing is really important in fall planting. You must plant early enough to allow the plants to become well rooted, or established, before the ground freezes for the winter.

Be sure that you don't forget to plant those fall bulbs you bought this summer. If you are like me, you might forget until you run across them this winter.

Do you wish each spring that you had planted some azaleas? Well, now is the time while many nurseries are trying to get rid of them rather than carrying them all winter.

If you see some in a nursery, make an offer. You might be surprised. A little advice when placing your houseplants inside: Your flowering plants like South and West windows while ferns, vines and other foliage plants do well in North and East windows. Ivies are about the only plant that will thrive in a room with no windows.

If some of your houseplants drop their leaves when brought inside, never fear. They will recover. The temperamental Ficus does not like to be moved once it finds the right place in your house. Once it finds that spot, it grows in leaps and bounds and has to be trimmed.

Take a little time to enjoy the changes in the fall foliage. Or perhaps just put your feet up and dream of next year's gardening.

Thank you for your calls. You can always reach me at 270-522-3632.

Copyright 2015 The Harrodsburg Herald, Harrodsburg, Kentucky. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: October 22, 2015

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