By Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
October is a critical month in landscape maintenance and should not be ignored. As we transition into Autumn and the first frosts in November, these key steps keep our landscapes healthy, weed-free, and ready for their long slumber through winter. These strategic steps also will provide a rich harvest from the vegetable garden through the holidays. Broccoli at Christmas is possible with task #5, weed prevention with # 6, and vibrant green evergreens right through the coldest winter days with #1. So here are the essential October gardening tasks that should be completed by the end of the month.
#1 Feed the Yard – The most critical job of fall is also the easiest: feeding everything in your landscapes. The entire yard should be fed within the next few weeks. Stay away from synthetic winterizer plant food. Much safer results are delivered with Watters 7-4-4 “All Purpose Plant Food.’ This organic blend plant food is safer for pets and people, and less likely to poison your drinking well than MiracleGro or Scotts 20-20-20 chemical foods. Evergreens will keep their vibrant green color through winter with this October feeding. It’s a must for spring bloomers like lilacs and forsythias. Native pinion and ponderosa pines should receive this meal to fend off bark beetles, scale, and aphids.
#2 Evergreen Pine Health – This is the month to treat pinion pines for scale, and it doesn’t take an arborist. Each evergreen is treated with Watters “Plant Protector,” Diluted with water in a 2-gallon watering can and applied at the base. The roots absorb this bug antibiotic and do the rest. Reapply in March, and you will have superior, pest-free trees all of 2021.
#3 Tree Aphids – Watch for large aphids. If the leaves and rocks are glistening like a morning’s dew, aphids have begun their assault. Get on them right away by hosing down these pests with Watters formulated “Multi-Purpose Insect Spray.” It also eliminates spiders and ants from coming into your home for winter when sprayed as a barrier around doors and windows.
#4 Insulate Irrigation -This move saves more money over the years from froze water pipes. Every fall, I buy next spring’s mulch, manure, and shredded bark products and use them as insulating bags. They are the perfect size for cold protection over inground value lids, around the well house, and around backflow preventers. The garden needs them next spring anyway, so why not get double duty out of those bags of soil amendments?
#5 Add Winter Blooming Flowers – By the end of October, trees are bare and summer flowers dead. Strategically place some blooming autumn plants in your landscape, containers, and vegetable gardens. Pansies, kale, mums, violas, broccoli, cabbages, lettuces, and cauliflowers all look bright through the shortest winter days.
#6 Kill Winter Weeds – Weeds like foxtail and dandelions emerge and become a severe problem by the end of the year. Spread Weed Beater Complete at 1 bag per 5200 sq.ft. for total weed control. Go ahead and apply your plant food and Weed Beater Complete simultaneously, just make sure this critical task is done in October.
With these minimal maintenance tasks, you’ll find winter-blooming flowers brighter, evergreens greener, all with vigorous spring growth. If you have questions about any of these six tasks, please stop by the garden center where the Watters staff is here to assist.
Latest Garden News – It’s been seven months in the making, and the first edition is now online. Watters digital garden center just makes researching local plants easier. Plant organization is precisely how a designer investigates them in the landscape. Trees are broken up into Evergreens, Shade and Fruit Trees to narrow down your search. This is an active list of plants that often changes as crops are harvested and brought to Watters Garden Center.
Top10Plants.com is for locals of central Arizona only. Amazon will not be delivering a 300-pound tree to your doorstep. We have local delivery and planting teams hired to install plants or pick plants up yourself here at Watters Garden Center. Take a look and let me know how to make this new digital garden center even better.
Until next issue, I’ll be here at Watters Garden Center helping local gardeners with their October gardening list.