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Garden Tips October 2014

Garden Tips October 2014

What is better than to sit in your garden eating sun dried tomatoes (that you dried), marinated artichokes, good bread, some nice cheese, fruit and an Italian soda or fine wine while enjoying the company of friends and family? Here is what is better.  Doing all of the above after your fall garden work is finally complete.  Yes, I know, it is a lot of work and you need to rest from working all week long, but think how good it will be when finished.  And you don’t have to do it all at once.  A little bit each day with one bigger project on the weekends and before you know it, your there, singing “O Sole Mio“. Here are the tips.

1. Clean up debris around your property.  If you are not using it, let it go.  Either recycle it, use it or ditch it.  Looking at old wood, rock, brick, pipe and unused pots and planters saps ones gardening creativity. Let it go and get on with new projects.

2.  Pull out plants that are finished for the season.  If you have plants that are dead or dying, unless they are particularly valuable specimen plants, dig them out and toss them. The nurseries have plenty of selection to replace them with.

3.  Clean up leaves, needles, spent flowers and fruit and replace them all with a fresh layer of mulch.  If you are replanting, dig in fresh compost to freshen up your soil.  Remember, compost gets dug into the soil and mulch goes on top.

4.  Plant for winter and think about spring while you are doing it.  After you renovate your beds and refresh your pots with new soil, plant bulbs and then over plant them with primula, cineraria, pansy’s and viola’s.  When this is done, mulch them and start a regular watering program.

5.  Watering is a year round project.  Even if it is raining it is important to monitor your garden soil to make sure your plants are getting enough water.  A one hour rain might only soak in a few inches depending on your soil type.  If your plants roots are a foot or more down this is not enough.

6.  Renovate lawns this month using an aerator and a thatching machine.  Get best designs via The aerator takes plugs from your lawns soil and allows air, water and fertilizer down to the root zone.  The thatching machine lifts the old thatch out of your lawn allowing the grass plants room to grow while removing fungus habitat.

7.  Decorate for the fall by bundling corn stalks for your front porch. Bundles of grain work nicely in dried flower arrangements.  Put dried corn, gourds mini pumpkins and straw in decorative baskets for a harvest look.

8.  Make a haunted yard for Halloween by hanging plastic bats or mini pumpkins from a tree. Some friends have a witch, plastic spiders, webbing, eerie  lighting and a spooky soundtrack piping weird voices to unwary trick or treaters.

9.  Plant winter vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, onions and peas.  Keep your lettuce supply going by reseeding new plants when the old ones go to flower.  There is little reason for not having table greens all year round.

10.  It is time for harvest parties. In between showers the garden is really the best place to sit and entertain.  Now that you have everything cleaned up and replanted why not share your yard with friends and family.

Good Gardening

Jack McKinnon worked in the Sunset Magazine gardens for 12 years and is now a Garden Coach.  He can be reached at 650-455-0687650-455-0687, or by email at visit his website at

A simple bed

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