Q: What jobs should I be doing in my garden in October? — Tish Keely, Santa Margarita
A: October is one of the most pleasant months in the garden. The temperature is generally mild, the soil is still warm, there are treasures to harvest and winter rains are, hopefully, on the way.
This is a perfect time for a thorough garden cleanup.
Clean out beds regardless of whether you plan to have a winter garden. Dig, divide and replant crowded perennials, cut yellowed asparagus to the ground, remove dead and diseased branches from trees and shrubs and keep ahead of cool season weeds by removing them and mulching the area.
Cut back and feed roses after their fall bloom to encourage another bloom before Christmas. Turn and replen ish the compost pile using the nondiseased debris from your maintenance.
Take advantage of winter’s anticipated rains by planting native plants and other garden shrubs and sowing wildflower seeds.
To guarantee a spectacular spring, sow seeds of sweet peas and other cool-season flowers, chill bulbs of tulips, crocuses and hyacinths, and select other fall bulbs for spring color.
If you want a winter vegetable garden, this is the time to put in seeds of winter greens and herbs and the many cool season vegetables. Otherwise, consider planting a cover crop to improve your soil.
Many plants will benefit from a good feeding at this time, including fruit trees and turf grass. Acid-loving azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons are setting bud now and should be fed.
Pest control continues to be important in October. With the cooler weather, snails and slugs reappear and should be trapped and eradicated.
You will want to reset watering schedules now to reflect the decreased water needs of your garden. Frost sensitive plants suffer less if their watering schedule is controlled to slow their growth at this time of year.
Your garden will reward you for your diligent autumn care by being more productive and attractive in future seasons. As always, the Master Gardeners are available to answer your questions, and their handy “The Gardener’s Journal” contains a wealth of information about gardening all year round.