Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Pacific Northwest

October, 2001
Regional Report

Mulch, But Not Too Much

Mulch is important, but don't overdo it. Mulch piled up too heavily can block air from reaching plant roots and may hold too much moisture during rainy periods. Apply only a 2- to 3-inch layer of shredded leaves or bark mulch over your beds and think "bagel" rather than "volcano" when applying mulch around trees. Keeping mulch away from tree trunks will help prevent disease and discourage rodent damage.

Harvest the Last Tomatoes

Frost will ruin your tomato fruits, so pick them ahead of time. I harvest everything and then sort them, separating those with the most potential from those that are iffy at best. Green tomato fruit that's showing a little color will ripen indoors on a warm kitchen counter. Light green fruit with dark green shoulders will ripen eventually, but the less mature fruits that are evenly green may not. These immature fruits are best made into green tomato relish.

Cut Back Trailing Plants

Tender fuchsias and ivy geraniums in hanging baskets should be cut back now and brought indoors if you want to overwinter them. Cut all stems back to 8 to 10 inches long, check and spray for any insect pests, hang the baskets in a sunny location, and water them occasionally. If growth gets leggy during the winter, pinch the stems back again.

Build Garden Structures

Fall is a great time to make special garden structures such as fences, gates, arbors or terraces. With plants out of the way, it's easier to move your creation into that perfect spot in the garden.

Plant Bulbs

Spring-flowering tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses all can be planted now. Choose a sunny location with well-drained soil. Plant bulbs in groups and add a handful of bulb fertilizer such as Bulb Booster to each hole. Plant the bulbs to a depth of two times the diameter of the bulb.


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