Record-breaking temperatures are on their way out of North Carolina (for now), which paves the way for a much needed cold front and patches of rainstorms to clean up our gardens. If you benefit from living in a frost-free state, October is a great time to plant some cool-weather crops and vegetables and repair any dried out areas of your garden. To sustain a healthy garden through the fall and winter months, we recommend you complete the following five tasks.
1) Divide your perennials
Most species of perennials benefit from enduring a division every couple of years. Like other fast-growing plants, perennials can quickly expand and overcrowd your garden while slowing dying from the inside out. If you have Oriental lilies, hostas, peonies, daylilies, bearded irises, or Oriental poppies planted in your garden, closely monitor their growth patterns. Dividing perennials is easy. Grab a sharp spade and dig around the plant until you are safely able to lift it out of the ground. Then, cut the plant up into smaller pieces. Lastly, plant the new, smaller pieces at the previous depth.
2) Replenish your mulch inventory
Now is an excellent time to spread an extra layer of mulch around your garden. Tightly pack a pile of mulch around each plant to protect it from freeze and thaw cycles. A 4-to 6-inch layer of shredded leaves, bark, or straw is plenty. For garden items planted less than a year ago, avoid trapping the trunk with too much mulch.
3) Start a compost pile
Have you ever created a compost pile? If not, it is never too late to start. All those long hours of pulling weeds (and maybe a back muscle or two), raking up fallen leaves and discarding of kitchen waste doesn't have to go to waste. Those garden chores do serve a greater purpose. During some downtime over the weekend, collect and compile a mound of available leaves, dead weeds and kitchen waste, which can later create a nutrient-rich soil amendment. If space isn't available, consider investing in a compost bin.
4) Plant some vegetables
Gardening is loads of fun when you get to eat your creations. In October, you can experiment in your garden by planting the following edible items: cabbage, collards, lettuce, carrots, mustard cauliflower, beets, and garlic.