After the summer, the golden October sweetens the farewell with gentle sunshine, bright blue skies and colorful leaves. The days are still warm, but at night the temperatures cool down noticeably. It's time to enjoy your balcony, garden or terrace one last time this year, even though gardening in October gives you a lot to do. Among other things, you need to winterize the plants, garden furniture and barbecue.
Cut your lawn to its normal height one last time before winter. If you cut it too short, the grass roots will be insufficiently protected from the cold. If you cut it too long, the blades will bend over and the grass-blades underneath will collapse. Clear away grass clippings and remove leaves regularly so that rot or fungus won't stand a chance. Get your lawn ready for winter now: scarify the lawn and strengthen it with an autumn lawn fertilizer, loosen compacted areas with an aerator or garden fork, and repair bare spots with reseeding. Water the lawn while it is dry, especially if you have reseeded.
The last summer bloomers say goodbye at the end of October, but the ornamental garden season is not over yet. Now is the time to plant cold-tolerant plants:
If you cut your roses only in spring, you will avoid frost damage. To do this, you should remove faded leaves or flowers which are affected by diseases such as powdery mildew, and dispose of them in the household trash. You can prune many trees and shrubs now. Trees up to five years old that are in the wrong place can be replanted on frost-free days. You should care for trees with injuries to protect them from wood fungus. Pluck out weeds that are growing like crazy - it's easier to do this after the rain. Water new trees, perennials or shrubs generously and loosen the soil with a rake so that it absorbs enough nutrients and liquid.
In October, you can properly harvest one more time: for example, cauliflower, peas, fennel, potatoes planted in April, kohlrabis, lettuce, peppers, radishes, celery, spinach, savoy cabbage and onions. Be sure to harvest cucumbers, squash, tomatoes or zucchini before the first night frost. If the squash, tomatoes or zucchini are not fully ripe, let them ripen indoors. You can leave broccoli, endives, carrots, parsnips, beets, and radishes in the bed a little longer, until the first heavy ground frost - the longer storage vegetables ripen, the longer they will keep. You can leave kale, leeks and Brussels sprouts outside all winter and harvest them fresh.
Despite the cold, you can plant plenty: Wild garlic, lettuce, garlic, chard, purslane, radishes, rhubarb, spinach or winter peas. If you live in a temperate climate, you can sow vegetables directly in the bed. More promising is a greenhouse or early or raised bed. A raised bed with a cold frame warms the vegetables from below and protects them from wind and weather. Carefully weed between seedlings and lightly loosen the soil.
If you have late-ripening tomatoes in your vegetable patch, prune their shoot tips and flowers to help them mature. You should protect chili or bell pepper plants with a fleece to help them ripen. Once it gets really cold and stormy, you should cover and protect your vegetables with a fleece or brushwood. You can divide large rhubarb plants and replant them elsewhere.
In addition to late-ripening apples and pears, harvest quinces, grapes or walnuts in October. Now is the best time to plant bare-root apple, pear, cherry, plum or damson trees, and the last chance before frost, to plant hardy berry bushes such as strawberries, blueberries or gooseberries. Berries planted in the fall will form roots in the winter and be ready for their first harvest in the summer. Water new trees and shrubs well.
Rotten fallen fruit or dried fruit is the perfect breeding ground for plant diseases and pests. Therefore, pick up fallen fruit regularly and remove any fruit that is dried out and hanging from branches. Towards the end of October, both the harvest and the breeding season are over, so you can prune back fruit trees and shrubs.
Outside, you can sow arnica, garden cress, true chamomile or parsley. Not all hardy herbs are equally hardy. That is why you should protect some varieties of lavender, laurel or rosemary from frost with fleece. Frost-sensitive herbs like basil or lemon verbena should be brought in before the first frost. Tarragon, mint or lemon balm will sprout again in spring, so you can harvest them and cut them back. However, harvest only what you need of savory, lavender, rosemary and true sage, and leave the rest as temperature protection.
Indoors, you can plant basil, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, chives or thyme, among others, in a sunny spot. For example, on the windowsill in the kitchen.
In October, you can plant autumn-flowering flowers and ornamental evergreen grasses. For example, chrysanthemums, bell heathers, purple bells, houseleeks or horned violets. In addition, you can place bulbs of early-flowering plants such as hyacinths, crocuses, daffodils, checkerboard flowers or narcissus and provide a blooming transition from winter to spring.
Be sure to bring inside frost-sensitive potted plants such as bougainvillea, fuchsias or hibiscus before the first night frost. Geraniums in window boxes and oleanders, as well as olive, bay and lemon trees in containers, tolerate the cold better, but should be moved to the warmth as soon as temperatures drop below zero for several nights in a row. Inspect all plants for pests before bringing them indoors, and it is best to place them in a bright, cool place. Plants from the Mediterranean or tropics need more light than others.
Plants that are too large or heavy and can tolerate frost can be overwintered outside. For example, boxwood, yew, wintergreen oak, firethorn, cherry laurel, arbor vitae, evergreen magnolia or European holly. Those need to be protected from the frost, especially their root:
Many houseplants are now going into hibernation. Others, such as cyclamen, amaryllis, fuchsia, gardenia, hibiscus, coral tree or orchids will continue to bloom for a while. They need a bright place where they are safe from dry heating air, preferably near a window. If you wipe the dust off the leaves with a damp cloth, you make it easier for the plants to photosynthesize. Water houseplants less and only once the soil is dry. Waterlogging can lead to mold. Inspect all plants for pests such as scale insects, spider mites or mealybugs and spray houseplants regularly with water to increase humidity.
Before the onset of winter, you should clean, repair, oil and store all garden tools in a dry place, for example in the garden shed, cellar or garage. There you can also winterize the garden furniture and barbecue. If you treat the deck chairs, chairs and tables with a protective wood stain before storing them and clean the barbecue thoroughly with a barbecue brush, especially the grate, you will be ready for the first beautiful days next spring.
Don't leave fallen fruit lying around, don't let fruit dry out on trees, and regularly inspect all plants indoors and outdoors for pests. In winter, many beneficial insects that will be fighting pests for you next spring need protection from the cold and plenty of food. For hedgehogs, you can rake up a pile of leaves as winter quarters, or for insects, leave some grasses or shrubs uncut. And birds will be happy about every berry that you won't harvest.