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October Garden Chores

October Garden Chores - pansies


  • This is a good time to core aerate compacted soils. Use a plug aerator rather than a spike to allow air and water to better penetrate the soil.
  • If you have reseeded the lawn, it's important to keep the tree leaves from accumulating. The leaf blower is easier on the seedling grass than a rake.


  • Fall is a good time to plant trees and shrubs. Pull roots loose on container grown plants and do not plant too deep. Dig the planting hole only as deep as the root ball is tall and twice as wide. Water thoroughly and mulch.
  • Purchase spring blooming bulbs and begin planting late in October and November.
  • Plant pansies, violas, johnny jump ups, kale and ornamental cabbage for cool season color in containers or garden beds. 
  • Remove spent annuals and shake out seeds if you want zinnias, cosmos, cleome, and similar reseeding annuals to return next year.
  • Leave seed heads on some perennials for the small birds to finish off.
  • Clean up houseplants before temperatures drop and they come indoors. Inspect carefully and treat to avoid insect infestations midwinter. 


  • Practice good sanitation if diseases were in the gardens and orchards. Be sure to rake leaves, remove any fruit left in the trees and pick up all fruit from the ground.
  • Attend to the strawberry bed and pull weeds, fertilize and water if needed.


  • Good sanitation is important here as well. Remove spent plants (insect and disease free) to the compost pile.
  • If tomato plants were infected with late blight, it is best to destroy those plants by burying deeply or bagging them and sending them out in the trash.
  • Harvest herbs before a hard frost. Make pesto with Basil or freeze leaves of others for later use.
  • Consider planting a cover crop to turn under in early spring. Be sure to leave some open space (mulched with leaves) for early spring planting.
  • Spray all crucifers (cabbage family crops) with organic B.t. (Bacillus thruingiensis) every 7 to 10 days to manage the various caterpillars that eat the plants.
  • Harvest sweet potatoes, pumpkins and winter squash before frost.
  • Plant garlic.
  • Buy row cover and make preparations to overwinter fall vegetables.


  • Leave hummingbird feeders out for late migrating birds.
  • Clean out birdhouses.

For more information, contact Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.