Until you can plant, read

Busy month for gardeners

   October: what a fabulous month. It has a beautiful birthstone, beautiful weather, crisp blue skies _ what’s not to like except for the anticipation of leave raking?

   I finally got my new flower/herb garden done. The picture was taken before I could add the final three plants because the chosen spot was taken by fire ants, which left me with a couple of nasty bites. I got even, however.

   Treating fire ants is one of the chores for this month. Here’s a list of other chores to do, or assign if you’re fortunate enough to have children who still agree to do chores, if not for love then money.

   Once again, credit goes to Sid Mullis, the Richmond County Cooperative Extension Agent, who has written the definite gardening calendar guide for the Augusta area, which is free; and the not free books “Month-By-Month Gardening in Georgia” by Walter Reeves and Erica Glasener and “The Perennial Care Manual” by Nancy J. Ondra.

  Spray ornamentals with systemic insecticide to control tea scale

   Plant shrubs and treesIn the lawn apply pre-emergence herbicide for winter weed control if you haven’t done already

   You can divide and transplants most perennials, the fall bloomers excepted; it’s also time to take cuttings from most spring and summer flowering plants

   You can top dress perennials and ornamentals with compost, just be sure keep it away from stems and crowns

   Cut back spring-bloomers but do not cut back verbena because it survives the winter better if left alone

   Dig up your caladium tubers before leaves completely fade (so you know where they are) and let foliage die back, shake off excess dirt and when dry, store in basement or garage for next year; you can also save your sweet potato vines by digging up the tubers and over-wintering them

   Clean out vegetable garden if you haven’t already

   Sid says to spray cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and collards with thuricide to control caterpillars

   Most banana and elephant ears will survive our winters if mulched, but speaking from three years of experience now, you may want to dig up your variegated banana before winter; cut off all leaves close to the trunk, wrap rootball tight with burlap or plastic and move to a place protected from freezing weather

   Plant up your fall vegetables (which I did last weekend but a mockingbird and cardinal followed behind me. I’ll let you know.)

   Mid- to late-October is time to plant pansies, violas, ornamental cabbage and kale

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