October finally brings the frost and cooler weather. The mosquitoes recede, the pumpkins and squashes are ready, and the mums burst into their glory. Heucheras, St Johns Wort (cultivar ‘Brigadoon’ pictured above), and Japanese maples put on their colorful fall foliage displays. October is the time we gardeners pinch our coleus and other tender plants to root in water for the winter. Geraniums, kalanchoe, caladiums, and hibiscus move to the garage. Many gardeners also dig up their canna and dahlia tubers also for storage, though many Cape gardeners successfully overwinter cannas in the ground, especially on a south-facing wall near a heat-sink like stone or brick.
If you plan to use cold frames over your vegetables, now is the time gardeners bring them out to protect the kale and lettuces. Even a frame with some clear plastic draped over it can make quite a difference! And now that the leaves are beginning to fall, it’s time to get those rakes and blowers out. Many gardeners like to chop the leaves in the mower and put them in the flower beds as mulch, where they make a blanket to help keep the ground warmer during the coldest months. Another option is to add them to your own compost pile, which you can use in the spring to enrich your soil when you begin planting again.
Happy Autumn all!