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Top 10 things to do in October--by region-ish?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 1067
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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It's that time of year. 

It's always that time of year.

The time of year when you think of the perfect project to be starting at the exact OTHER time of year.  "If only it were March now, I could do __ and __ and __!"

But it's not.  It's October.

What's perfect about October? what are the top ten things I thought of doing in March that I later forgot about, or wrote down somewhere that I now can't remember?  October gets cooler; has fewer sun hours per day; lower sun angle; less weed competition; less drought/overheating problems; less insect pressure; less human-detering mosquito pressure and pleasant ambiance for human work days…what else can we take advantage of about October that other months just don't have? (apologies for anyone south of the equator—you can post on this thread about April.  "October is the kindest month" — Australian T. S. Eliot)



Here are some threads that talk about fall:

https://permies.com/t/17123/Fall-plantings-preparing-season -- Massachusetts author Eric Toensmeier weighs in.  (It's Eeeeeric, it's the Ericinator.  The Toensmaster.)



some info on planting pawpaws, and explanation of winter "scarification" and "stratification"

https://permies.com/t/71761/tree-shrub-seeds-sown-nursery



fall potatoes!?

https://permies.com/t/4806/Fall-planting-potatoes-zone



fall maple sugaring?! maybe sometimes a good idea is actually a bad idea…jury's out

https://permies.com/t/59098/Fall-Sugaring



Here's my list of things I've been doing this October (this is not to say these are good ideas, I'm still a beginner, sharing where I'm at; this is in zone 6, northeastern USA, urban):

—harvested pawpaws from nearby community garden (the tree's been there many years, an elderly gardener who no longer comes by much—they just pile up)
—harvesting acorns
—(in previous years) ordering fruit/nut trees for planting in November
—sawing some limbs off trees or coppicing some saplings that were shading planted walnuts and pears in my "zone 6" (land 200 miles from here that I get to only a few time a year), so they hopefully get a head start in the fall
—inventory of my carbon footprint (electric, gas, and transportation)
—built a "worm town" for the winter (Paul Wheaton's term—a 3 foot hole backfilled with plant matter and a 6" cap of garden soil on top—see his book for the whole description)
—making pokeberry ink (for a gift for someone obsessed with fountain pens)
—solar cooker cooking—the clearer air makes it much more effective, even with lower sun angle and shorter days—works through winter
—starting a new custom with chestnut gifts
—harvesting my potato (yes, that's right, only one potato came out of that thing.)
—harvesting green tomatoes
—spreading compost and then mulching the garden bed, throwing our daikon radish seeds into the bed too to make some deeper soil in advance of spring



Yes, this thread is a shameless way of getting help with making a daily-ish—a pre-dailyish thread, if you will--but also I hope a useful meta-thread, a way of organizing a bunch of other fall-related threads or topics people know about so that people can find their way more directly to the right piece of information at the right time!  I think this way of cross-referencing or organizing information can help beginners get oriented a bit more, if we don't have our families to teach us these things at the right time of year.  Thanks for your thoughts!!



 
gardener
Posts: 810
Location: Ohio, USA
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I have a big to do list and then a daily one.  My big one has an indoor section and an outdoor section.  I order them by priorities and then forget that part upon execution.

I'm zone 5/6

This fall I'm...

Planting my winter crops.  That's right: there's about 1 month of above frost left,  2 months of above freeze,  and 3 months of not yet frozen solid,  which should be enough time for:
Radishes, arugula, maybe turnips or baby carrots,  spinach,  chard, kale, mesclun,  maybe beets. I'll be using low tunnels to hedge my bets and out wit some rodents.
There's also the onions, garlic, corn salad, winter wheat, and other things that make it through the frozen solid months alright.  We have such pest influence I will be sprouting (ever so slightly) the wheat before I plant it.  In fact,  since much of my ground is already planted and the critters are stuffing themselves for winter, I am starting most of this inside. That will give me 2-3 weeks to clear out the stuff that's not gonna produce anymore.


Mowing/trimming/pulling. Yes, the lawn,  but also: perennial plants that go dormant pull their nutrients out of the leaves, into the roots.  You weaken weeds a lot if you chop off all their top growth before they can suck  out it's nutrition. I let squash wander in my lawn, but it's pretty much done now, so I want to get my lawn back for kid and dog use, and to impress the neighbors (haha). The dandelion root is probably biggest now.

Processing: much of what I started drying mid summer is dry now and just needs to be put into the proper storage.

Wood gathering: I'd chop it too, if I had more of me.

Rooting cuttings: these are ones I will have to baby over winter...oh well. The wood is available now.

Picking up acorns: I'd say processing,  but due to lack of time,  I'm fridging them for now

House cleaning: after 5 months of ignoring the indoors,  I have to move back in and evict the spiders and dust that took my place.

Prepping for cold: wood stove in good working shape? Check! Humidifiers working? Check! Enough covers for the beds? Check! New air leeks around the doors and windows fixed? ....almost check....

Buying the last of the fresh, local stuff: I wish I could grow a beautiful large cabbage,  but so far I just get piddly looking things,  thus I go to the farmer's market and buy from them. What I can't grow yet and can be stored for months, I do.

Starting cooking as heating: during summer it's hot.  I avoid cooking as much as possible.  Instead I do a lot of cold foods.  In fall though,  the weather is cool enough to even be a little cold,  which is fixed just right with a pot of stew and fresh,  home made bread.

Clean the windows: solar heat gain can be quite substantial.  Cleaning them windows helps.

Reprocessing kids clothes: weather change means everyone with kids in the community cycles their clothes to the next in line.

Vehicle/equipment service: I'm not sure how soon I'll get to it this year, but I like getting the vehicle derusted and coated with paints or wax to avoid further rust damage. The same goes for shovels, wheel barrows,  etc.

Move dirt: during summer it's so dry and hard.  During winter it's so frozen,  but spring and fall it cuts like butter and you can therefore do more in less time.

Leaf shifting: such great dirt next year and a great mulch cover for perennial plants, but bad for lawn and driveway,  so I shift it around.

Hose wrap-up: no longer needed this year, so they need to be unplugged and the line drained.

Surveying and mapping out niche holes: so you know how many plants to buy/start mid winter and plant in spring.

Update the planting journal: of what worked/didn't before you forget.

Make a prize for yourself to get after fall is over and it's the middle of winter so you don't suffer from exhaustion because it's a busy time of year with a drop in sunshine and you may have already been going full throttle since April.

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Posts: 284
Location: Middle Georgia
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The only "special" project is learning how to can now that it isn't ungodly hot. Up until now I couldn't even imagine creating more heat in the kitchen! It is also a good time to dehydrate.

Other than that Fall tasks/projects include:

1) Weatherproof the chicken coop (i.e. check the hen house for leaks/gaps that let cold air in and this year make a new flap cover for the chicken window).

2) Lay down cardboard to smother any weeds for the spring garden.

3) Do some "fall cleaning" i.e. wiping down walls and cleaning windows.

4) Put window film over the windows for insulation.

5) Organize the storage room, check supplies and restock as needed -- food storage, propane, batteries, otc meds/bandages, kerosene (for emergency heaters), wicks etc... to prepare for possible winter outages. Already bought another kiddie pool for emergency water storage.

6) Jot down important things I learned from this year's spring/summer garden so I don't forget next year (i.e. where to plant various things, what to plant more/less of, when to start transplants indoors, new things I want to plant next spring etc...)

7) Check my emergency car bag (update supplies/contents) and make sure I have a warm jacket/rain gear/blanket in the car for winter.

8) Wash the winter clothes that have been stored away so they smell fresh.

9) Harvest/dehydrate/tincture garden herbs. Also hang the rest of the tobacco for drying.

10) Already made some dog bed covers, a thermal curtain for the big window and super warm lounge pants along with other cozy things for winter but may make some more, still have a window that needs some insulation.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1067
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Thanks Amit, the part about moving soil in the spring and fall is especially helpful.  That's the kind of thing I doubt I'd ever have thought of, or would think of in the middle of summer when I needed to move some soil and then gone, Oh, rats.

Lucrecia, you seem really on top of things.  The kiddie pool for water especially.  I rather think I couldn't get away with having one--even an empty one--in the city without incurring a certain amount of grumpiness from others...

I've just learned now is the time to plant pawpaws from seed, they'll scarify or stratify over the winter.  Chipmunks and squirrels have bigger nuts to fry and won't bother them, I gather. 

I imagine a lot of building projects should happen in the fall or spring, much easier than in the heat.

Girdle trees in the spring (Feb. 28th I think is the date for most fire resistance?), and then build in the fall.

Machaelle Small Wright talks about the new season for the garden beginning in the fall, the plan is formed in the fall, but I guess you can sort out the details over the winter when stuff isn't growing.

 
pioneer
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I'm zone 7b/8a. In October I:

  • Knit (and felt) mittens for my kids, as well as knit hats if they've outgrown their old ones
  • Transplant my extra raspberries and thimbleberries into my salmonberry hedge to get tastier fruit in there
  • Dig up potatoes
  • Harvest the last of the squash, strawberries, green beans, etc.
  • Stock the wood box with wood and rearrange my living room so my couch doesn't block the woodbox
  • Start making Christmas presents
  • Weed the garden beds. Hack back the hedges and the blackberries that try to take over
  • Often start smothering things for new garden beds/tree plantings. I love my big paper feed sacks and duck bedding for that!
  • Once all the edibles are harvested from a garden bed, start putting on a layer of duckbedding to protect from rain and to add nutrients
  • If I were good, I'd switch out my LEDs for Incandescents to help heat my house...
  • Clean the wood stove chimney BEFORE we light the first fire


  • Move dirt: during summer it's so dry and hard.  During winter it's so frozen,  but spring and fall it cuts like butter and you can therefore do more in less time.


    It's quite the opposite for me, maybe because I have gravely loam soil. In spring and Fall it's all wet and goopy and heavy. In the summer it's dry and easy to work with, almost like dry sand at the beach. It took me a while to realize that the gardening advice I found in books saying to weed after a rain when the soil is loose, just doesn't apply to me. My soil is looser when it's dry. Example: I tried to dig up potatoes today. I probably missed a bunch because the wet solid just compacted and I couldn't just dig trhough it with my hands. WHen I was harvesting them before it rained, I could just brush the dirt and mulch around and find potatoes in 1/20th of the time. 
     
    Joshua Myrvaagnes
    pollinator
    Posts: 1067
    Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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    kids trees urban
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    Wow, thanks Nicole!  Lesson learned, again--it depends. 

    transplanting berries, that's one I hadn't thought of.
     
    Joshua Myrvaagnes
    pollinator
    Posts: 1067
    Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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    kids trees urban
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    Another idea I just had was to put a reminder in my electronic calendar NOW for something I should remember to do in spring.  I may not have the opportunity to do it but I may, and having it in my calendar makes it that much likelier I'll remember. 
     
    Lucrecia Anderson
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    Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:
    Lucrecia, you seem really on top of things.  The kiddie pool for water especially.  I rather think I couldn't get away with having one--even an empty one--in the city without incurring a certain amount of grumpiness from others...



    I have one in the yard year round for the dogs, the new one is in the shed and will be dragged out and filled if a power outage is expected. Most kiddie pools hold 35-50 gallons of water. It is sort of like filling your bathtub only the pool will refill on its own from rain (and rainwater caught in a clean container is safe to drink).

    Depending on the type of disaster even people on city water can have their water supply contaminated. I would rather drink kiddie pool water than boiled tap water that sewage leak into it.
     
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    Zone 10a here. October means

    1. Plant new trees and shrubs
    2. Spread a fresh layer of mulch and compost over the entire property
    3. Prune acacia willows (use as mulch)
    4. Harvest figs and some other fruits
    5. Plant tomatoes, strawberries, and anything else that was impossible to grow when it was 120-130 degrees all day every day for months
    6. Scatter birdseed and/or cover crop seeds everywhere
    7. Pluck or transplant unwanted acacia willow sprouts (I like to give them to my friends or plant them around town, as they are a vigorous and fast growing, low maintenance canopy layer tree)
    8. Repair or build key structures in preparation for winter rains and the next summer
    9. Turn beds, if any
    10. Plant beets, broccoli, kale, and other such vegetables
     
    pollinator
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    Location: Longbranch, WA
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    October means 2 or 3 days of rain and 2 or three days of cool but dryer weather.  I have a lot of standing dry grass with new growth starting underneath so getting out there with the scythe to mulch where I don't want the grass to grow on dry days is much easier than the heat of summer or trying to do it morning or evening and getting bug bites.
    Getting the greenhouse and high tunnels ready for the cold  is the other priority along with moving planters into them. If it is raining I can work inside. between showers I can pop out and get things to bring in.
     
    pollinator
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    I don't love autumn. Most years it's a season of grey clouds and rain / drizzle all the time. This October was better than average, much more sunny. But still I'm more often indoors than out.
    This October I:
    - joined the drawing challenge Inktober, making one drawing in ink every day;
    - put some warmth loving plants in an almost South facing corner of the garden close to the house, as an experiment (from David the Goods book 'Push The Zone'). See if I can grow sweet potatoes and red peppers there;
    - like other years covered my herb spiral with fallen leaves from the neighbourhood, as a mulch and a 'warm blanket';
    - am brainstorming in myself on a book I want to write.
     
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    Ok, I have way more than 10 things= just shows how crazy October is here!  Zone 4, upper upper Midwest: BUSIEST MONTH OF YEAR!= complete outside tasks early in month to avoid working in snow/sleet/rain;
    2. Have names of good farm help ready to call
    3. Finish drying herbs, bag for storage; dry comfrey for winter feed
    4. Pot up/Bring in tender plants; fall crops: apples, pears, squash, potatoes, (cold cellar);
    5. Store: roots, tubers, bulbs, corms; (create metal cages to deter rodent damage- better for January project, but need them now!) Dig medicinal roots
    6. Bring in/store irrigation equipment
    7. Winterize: barn; bees; house; garden beds/layout new beds(cardboard/mulch); organize planting spaces for next season; worms; car; trees; 
    8. Winter projects prep: plant rack; grape post holes; chicken tractor;
    9. Cordwood(12): cut/split/stack
    10. Inventory: plants/seed needed for next season; order before month end; ID spaces where ordered plant/seeds will go;
    11. Fodder/bedding: bring in hay, straw; grain stored in galvanized cans;
    12. Dehydrate: soup items(pepper, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, beets)
    13. Collect: leaves; pallets; sawdust;
    14. Plant: garlic; fall bulbs; potted woodys;
    15. Cooking: make soups, casseroles,
    16. Machines & tools: servicing, cleaning, storage; bring out winter tools before the doors freeze shut; replace tools needed for next season; have enough/correct tools for a crew of 4;
    17. Prep: sand pots for hardwood cuttings(Feb); seed start trays(where I can access them without chipping ice); 
    18. Mowing stops October 1st = ground left rough/weeds tall: for birdseed, to catch/slow snow runoff, protection for small creatures, slows the wind, easier to snowshoe/more grip
    19. Remember not to start new classes during this time- too busy!
    20. Wish/dream for a hoop/greenhouse using geothermal heating
     
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