The cooler evenings are a reminder that fall is here. There will still be an occasional warmer day, but we can count on two things happening soon, shorter days and an eventual hard freeze. On average the first hard frost in much of Ohio occurs in October.

According to a gardening newsletter I receive from Hudson Seed Company, “October is the garden gate of the season. It’s the dividing line between one year’s bounty and the next. With its arrival comes the end of the planting period for most crops, and the last call for many others. But Octobers also heralds harvests of squash, sunflowers, and fall greens. And it offers us the opportunity both to plant seeds to overwinter and to pamper our growing spaces so our gardens will be better than ever come spring. It’s a month of appreciation for what we’ve worked so hard to achieve over the past growing season, and an investment in the year to come.”

It’s time to start putting our gardens to bed for the winter.

October’s tasks for the gardens include:

Have your lawn and garden soil tested. You can contact the OSUE Clinton County office for more information at 937-382-0901.

Rake up fallen leaves and add them to your compost pile.

Mulch areas intended for early spring planting.

Plant trees and shrubs and water deeply before the ground freezes.

Rake up or pull annuals once they’re killed by frost.

Take cuttings of your favorite herbs to grow indoors over winter.

Remove stakes and other garden equipment from the vegetable garden.

After a killing frost, clean up the vegetable garden. Squash borers winter over in plant debris.

Check houseplants for insect pests that may hitch a ride inside at summer’s end.

Make a “to do” list for next year’s garden while you still remember what happened this year!

Remember tidying up the garden will ensure the healthy and vigorous development of next year’s flowers, foods, lawns, and ornamental plants. Also, don’t forget to protect those young trees from rutting deer. If the trunk is 1 to 4 inches in diameter, you can use a piece of 4-inch plastic drain tile. Split/cut it down one side and slide it on the tree. Just be sure to take it off in March! We must put snow fence around our Bald Cypress tree again this year since it was planted directly beside the well-traveled deer path on our property. What were we thinking? We chose the planting site because of the view, not thinking about the deer.

As you start to make your list for the month of October, don’t forget to leave some ornamental and wildlife-friendly plants standing. Clean up beds tactically for maximum enjoyment by you and the birds.