October Gardening Activities - Region 1

Gardening Tips for October

Northwest and Northern California Gardens

Learn2Grow Region 1 Map

States in the region:

Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Northern California

Key Issues for October

  • Lift caladium and other tropical bulbs with their foliage before frost hits, and allow the leaves to wither and the soil on the roots to dry. After a few days, you can safely break away the dried leaves and brush off the soil, then store them in sawdust or shredded paper to overwinter in a cool (frost-free), dry spot indoors.
  • Bring in houseplants that summered outdoors. After months of enjoying humidity and sufficient light outside, they must now accept the drier air and lower light levels indoors.
  • Remove weeds that still remain in the garden to help eliminate potential weed seeds that can sprout and take over come the next growing season.
  • Envision beautiful tulips, daffodils and crocus blooming in your garden next spring. Now’s the time to buy and plant those spring-flowering bulbs. (Remember, you plant bulbs now to enjoy later!)
  • Plant trees, shrubs, vines and perennials in your landscape. Planting in fall is a good idea so plants can set roots before the onset of winter. Be sure to water in all new transplants well!
  • Turn an ordinary pumpkin into a beautiful fall planter.
  • Go apple picking! It’s a fun family outing that leads to healthy snacking. With so many apple varieties to choose from, there’s bound to be a few that tickle everyone’s taste buds.
  • Store apples in the refrigerator and enjoy them in sauces, pies and other apple-filled treats. Keep the fruit in a plastic bag with small air holes to prevent further ripening and to maintain a high moisture level to delay withering.
  • Rake fallen leaves before they have a chance to pile up on the lawn and collect in your landscape. In addition to giving your yard a tidy appearance, raking leaves helps keep your lawn healthy and prevents pests from finding hiding spots to spend the winter.
  • Compost raked leaves – they become “black gold” for your garden! Create a leaf mold corral of woven wire to hold your piles, which will decompose into valuable compost come spring. Incorporate garden soil and organic fertilizer into the layers of leaves to increase overall richness and hasten decomposition. When your compost is ready, you can add it to vegetable and herb gardens to make up for what was used during the previous gardening season.
  • Plant winter-hardy vegetables – the leaf and root types, like kale and radishes.
  • Cut rose hips at their peak softness to make jam or jelly, or to use in a winter medicinal tea.
  • Harvest the last of your tomatoes – even the green ones – before the first frost hits. Fried green tomatoes make a delicious fall treat.
  • Get ready for Halloween! Pumpkins take center stage when you create a unique pumpkin totem pole. Make it a fun day for the family: Pick your pumpkins, paint them, then see how they stack up!
  • Help the kids and grandchildren turn sweetgum seedpods into Halloween decorations. These “prickle balls” make cool bats and spiders!
  • Cut back any herb flower stalks that are in good shape, then prepare them for winter use. Making dried herbs, infusions and essential oils is a great way to enjoy your harvest long after the plants have gone.
  • Prepare to help our feathered friends this winter. Bring out any stored feeders and clean them if necessary. (Find strategic spots for window viewing so you can enjoy life in the winter garden from the warm comfort of your home.) Buy birdseed to have on hand when Mother Nature’s supply is depleted. Leaving dry seed heads on your plants instead of cutting them off is another great way to supply winter food for birds.
  • Clean and store gardening tools that you’ve finished using for the season. The colder months are a great time to make needed repairs or to shop for new gardening tools.
  • Before the first killing frost comes, take stem cuttings of any tender plants that you’d like to overwinter indoors. Coleus, lantana and many other tropical perennials make nice candidates for propagating.
  • Start a new herb garden from current plants. Most herbs, like rosemary, basil and oregano, can be propagated by cuttings for next year’s bounty.
  • Take pictures and make notes of what did and did not perform well in your garden this year. Keep it all in a garden journal. You’ll save time and money when next spring rolls around as you peruse plant catalogs, order seeds and buy more plants.