It’s that long-awaited time of year for harvesting your apples and pumpkins- or taking a trip to one of the local orchards to harvest theirs! With so many tempting options here in Minnesota, you’ll no doubt be able to have your fill of apple cider and pumpkin bars this season. Hopefully, you had a successful bounty yourself, but if any of your homegrown apples or gourds have fallen and are spotty with disease, it’s important to get them off of your property since many of the pests that cause these diseases hide out and spend the winter in plant material. Getting rid of this waste will reduce pest problems next year.
We touched on much of the productive planting that can be done in October last time but it should be mentioned that it’s also an ideal time of year for pruning your maples, birch, black walnut, oaks, honey locusts, and any other trees that bleed or are susceptible to disease when pruned in spring. While the trees are young, prune them to a single, central leader then move on to broken or crossed branches. As you work your way down the tree, remove any of the unwanted lower branches last. It’s important not to leave stubs when pruning, rather, cut just beyond the branch collar.
October is the best month to fertilize if you’re on a once-per-year schedule. Grass roots continue to grow even after the blades have stopped for the year, so fertilizing in late fall will give your lawn the added advantage of going into winter in good condition. As an aside, you can keep mowing your grass until it stops growing for the year, mulching in leaves along with the grass- as long as there isn’t too heavy an accumulation. If there are more leaves than your mower can handle, instead rake and compost them. Homemade compost like this (and that which you might collect from your kitchen waste) is best added to gardens and flower beds in the fall since it will have broken down and worked itself into the soil by springtime. Adding your homemade compost to these areas in a thick layer will help reduce weeds as well.
We’re in the final stages of lawn and garden season, so make sure to get out there and spend a little time harvesting, pruning, or preparing beds for what’s to come.