Things to Do in October
If there is any one perfect time to work in the garden, it is October. The weather is still reasonably good, temperatures are cool and you might not even break a sweat. New trees and shrubs, perennials and ground covers will do so much better next year when planted or transplanted now. Make a plan, prepare the beds and then begin to transplant from overcrowded areas before going to your local nursery to buy more plants.
Fall is a good time to wean your plants and lawn from regular watering. Do not keep your sprinkler system turned on to scheduled watering. It is always best to check the moisture in the soil before watering and this is the time for you to get accustomed to do this. Get away from the habit of Monday, Wednesday and Friday watering. Even though many plants go dormant and do not need as much water as in the heat of the summer they still need to get moisture from the soil. If the soil gets to dry then there is a very good chance that the plants will die. Even though we get more rain in the fall and winter always check the plants around the house that may be protected by the eaves.
If you hurry you can still work on rebuilding the lawn. Damaged lawns, that may be a result of the summers heat and drought or grub worms, can still benefit from a good application of an organic fertilizer. To encourage the spread of runners lower your lawn mower a couple of notches so that the energy will be focused on lateral growth and not upright. If you had grub damage apply the Beneficial Nematodes. BN’s will attack grub larvae, plus some other 200 insects that have at least one life cycle in the ground.
If you had a heavy weed infestation you have several options:
- Apply Corn Gluten Meal, as a pre-emergent. You are running out of time and if you can not complete this before October 15th, Don’t do It! Always supplement your CGM application with a mineral such as Humate, Sul-Po-Mag or Rock Phosphate Collodial Clay.
- Application of an all purpose natural fertilizer to encourage root growth of the grasses during the winter so that the weeds will be choked out in the spring.
- Over seed with a winter grass seed like Rye or Fescue or Clovers. Fescue will be a permanent grass, so apply Fescue in shady areas where St. Agustine won’t grow.
Fall is for planting. The single best time is now that the ground is still warm. The warm soil will promote root growth and help establish the plant for next summers heat and drought. Transplant and separate perennials these plants will go through a minimum amount of shock. The next few months are the best ones for planting and transplanting both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs. Now, during the fall and winter dormant season is the time when these plants can be transplanted with a minimum amount of shock. Also, now is the time that Rohde’s has a sale on perennials. Now, all perennials are 30% off.
Right now is a good time to select and plant flowering kale, cabbage, pansies and fall mums.
Tender plants like geraniums, gerbera daisies, angel wing begonias, tropical hibiscus and bougainvillea should be brought indoors before the frost hurts them.
October is a harvest month, so be sure to harvest vegetables at their peak of flavor, and before they are damaged by frost or cold temperatures. Dig new garden beds for next spring. Incorporate plenty of organic matter and leave the soil rough to allow good water penetration. Grow a green manure cover crop and till it in before planting the bed in the spring. Compost fallen leaves. Harvest winter squash and pumpkins when fully mature, before they are damaged by frost. Leave a short piece of stem as you cut the fruits from the vine. They will keep for several months if stored in a cool, dry place.
If you haven't already purchased your bulb, you better hurry. But, do not hurry to plant them. Remember that this newsletter is written down south and our soil temperatures are still warm. After a couple of freezes soil temperatures should be low enough to plant spring bulbs such as, crocus, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips bulbs. Remember two things about Tulip Bulbs.
They are not good repeaters down south and they must be refrigerated for about 30 to 45 days before planting.
There should be a law that requires all landscape companies to leave all debris at the site that they came from. This would mean that our landscape crews would be not be able to haul away any trash at all. Fallen leaves, begonias, impatience and other spent summer annual flowers, stalks of old tomato plants and other vegetable from your garden should be added to the compost pile. If you feel lazy some of the smaller vegetable plants can just be turned into the garden. Add molasses to the soil to encourage microbes to help break down this organic matter. Grass clippings should not be composted. Leave them on the lawn and only compost the clippings if you have scalped the lawn in preparation for over seeding. If you over seeded with rye do not catch your clippings, let them stay on the lawn.
Slugs and Bugs
Slugs are really showing again this fall. Not only the adult slugs, but baby slugs and even slug eggs are possible problems during the fall season. So, whether you use slug baits, beer, or salt or some other means of eliminating them, it is important to get after them before they reproduce again this fall. Control by using beer baits, diatomaceous earth or Decollate Snails. These predator snail are cannibals who just love the taste of their kin. No salt needed. They will devour the snails and slugs rapidly.
As we spend more time indoors we may see more insects in the house. Prevention or exclusion are the best cure. Beneficial Nematodes (BN’s) can be applied around the perimeter of the house. These good guys will seek out and destroy some 200 different soil dwelling insects that are hibernating or in a larval stage. In Howard Garret’s Texas Bug Book on page 98 there is a great photo of a roach being attacked by BN’s. With the BN’s not only can you keep them out of the house, but out of the garden also.
Exclusion is important the use of Stuff-It™, caulking or other barriers to seal off points of entry can be done now that we will be spending less time in the garden. Stuff it is a copper mesh that is placed in voids around the house like the weep holes in the brick walls or where the wiring run into the house. As time goes by the copper mesh builds up static electricity and shocks the insect as it tries to get in the house.
Michigan State University has proved that foliar feeding is one of the best ways to supply nutrients to a plant. All I know is that the project somehow or another involved a liquid food source that had been mixed with tiny atoms to be used as their control product.
By foliar feeding this special meal on to the leaves of their test plants they traced the atoms down to the roots and back up to the tip of the plant. They determined that the plants were able to absorb the nutrients and use them almost ten times faster then through conventional feeding. The researchers found that foliar feeding improved growth, fruit and vegetable production and the overall quality of the plant.
This research proved that the best time to foliar feed was early in the morning when the stomata is open (the stomata are small pores on the under-side of leaves). Early spraying will improve the absorption rate by allowing the fertilizer to stick to the leaves. The best time to spray is when the temperature is around 72 degrees. Here in the south you may have to wake up before 3:00 am during the summer for proper timing. Take care to avoid leaf burning when spraying in direct sunlight.
Most foliar applications should contain Nitrogen and Phosphorous. In the fall apply a smaller amount of nitrogen and more phosphorous to help internal circulation of the plant and increase it’s chance of making it through the stress of the cold winter weather.
Because plant, trees, etc., have the ability to take in nutrients through their leaves, foliar feeding is becoming increasingly popular. If you did everything correctly results can be seen in less then two days. There really is no improper way to foliar feed, whatever you sprayed can be absorbed through the leaves or eventually the product that has fallen to the ground will make it up to the plant from the root system.
Howard Garrett recommends applying a combination of compost tea, kelp, molasses and apple cider vinegar. Foliar Juice by Green Sense contains the above plus fish emulsion and baking soda.
It is best to apply the foilar sprayings as a mist. To accomplish this you are better off using a pump sprayer or an electric applicator. This is definitely the time where more is not better. You can foliar feed as long as the plants have leaves on them that are not dormant.
About thirty years ago my mother went to a beach north of Lima, Peru to play bridge and spend a quiet Sunday with some friends. The beach my mother went to was known for its calm waves and tranquil water, where one could swim with hardly a fear. A place called Ancon.
My oldest brother, Walter, decided to go to a beach south of Lima in search of a new girlfriend. Walter went to a beach called Villa, with waves that easily reached 20 feet high and would come crashing down so hard that the water was churned into a yellow foam of salt and stirred up sand. The undertow could never be measured, but its presence was so feared, that who ever ventured into these water usually went only ankle deep - if smart.
Walter was not smart. After playing beach tennis and working up a sweat, Walter was going to try and impress a girl, and decided to swim out beyond the waves.
Nobody knows how he made it beyond the waves, but some friends believe that it was the undertow that sucked him away from the beach and mercifully let him go about 200 yards from shore. The next thing his friends saw was a head bobbing up and down barely visible from the beach. The undertow was not letting Walter swim towards the shore, and seemed to be taking him further away from his friends and the beach.
One friend ran to a nearby club to alert the life guard of the drowning man in the water. The Life Guard said that he was hired by the private club and could not leave his post. Another friend ran to a nearby house and called the coast guard. They said that they would dispatch a helicopter; unfortunately the nearest one was 40 to 60 minutes away. The water temperature in this area of Peru ranges from 58 to 72 degrees on a warm day.
When the friends got back, there was a large crowd gathering around to see what was going to happen. Now, there were two round objects floating out there. Had someone gone out to help him?
All this started around 1:00 pm. My mother was almost 200 kilometers away from Walter. Her friends say that she started to breath heavily and turned very pale. After a while she started to tremble, and then shake, as if with fear. Feeling very scared she asked her friend to drive her back to Lima. They had only been in Ancon for an hour or so.
No one knew who was out there with Walter or how he got there. One of the owners of a nearby house came out to the beach with a pair of binoculars. There was not another person out there with Walter.
Walter had worn a long bathing suit that allowed him to tie a knot at the end of each leg, and, blowing into the suit he was able to make a life vest that was capable of keeping him afloat. Damn, where was that helicopter? Thirty minutes in the water and he seemed to have drifted further away.
My mother was already on her way back. Her friend was thinking about driving her to a hospital thinking that she was going to have a heart attack. "No, I have to get back home. Something is wrong," she whispered.
All of the sudden, Walter appeared closer to where the waves break and then he disappeared. From a distance you could hear the familiar sound of the helicopter’s blades cutting through the air. But nobody looked for it. All eyes were on the water where Walter was last seen. Time passed by and nothing.
I had stayed home that day, I don’t know why. I was taking a nap on the couch, when I heard someone coming in and I was very surprised to see my mother and my aunt come in the front door about four hours before expected. When I saw my mother I was scared, I thought something terrible had happened to her. She couldn’t talk. My aunt was trying to explain what happened but she couldn’t. She did not know what had so suddenly come over my mom.
"I need to pray, pray with me," Mommy pleaded.
Several minutes passed by and my mother started to calm down. Her breathing was easier. It was about 3:00 pm. She was tired, exhausted, so we put her feet up on the couch and watched her slowly go to sleep.
In Villa, the helicopter was now overhead, directly out from where everyone was standing, looking for the body. Not more than 100 yards from where everybody was gathered, a limp figure came tumbling through the foam caused by the rough waves. To everyone’s amazement, Walter stood up and tried to fight the undertow that once more threatened to take him back out. Someone rushed in to help him, as others made a human chain to help if needed. When Walter got to the beach he collapsed and rested.
It was about 3:00 pm.
Sometime in July of ‘99, I left work early to go shopping at the Galleria with my wife and kids. I made it home just as they were leaving. Assisi decided that if I was going to go, she was not. Upset, but wanting to have a good time anyway, Sandra, Victor and I went on. We shopped for a while and then went to lunch at an Oriental Restaurant on the upper level. During our leisurely lunch we watched the skaters below, even laughing at those who fell. When finished, we shopped some more and decided to leave the Galleria and travel a few blocks to Valley View Mall.
We were in the mall for less then 30 minutes, when I felt like I had to go home. I asked Sandra to call Assisi and see if she was okay. Sandra tried a couple of times, but could not get an answer. We left immediately. From Valley View Mall we got on LBJ heading East, towards Central Expressway. In less than seven minutes, as we were approaching Spring Valley, we received a phone call. It was Assisi.
I could see Sandra’s expression change as she listened to the phone. "The fire department is in our house," she said out loud so I could hear. "They had to force their way in and get Assisi out of the shower. They do not see any smoke or a fire, but the alarm went off and automatically called the fire department. We will be there in less then 10 minutes," Sandra said into the phone. "Please, have the firemen wait with you until we get there."
Assisi was all right. The house did not burn down. Some workers that had been in the attic earlier in the week had tripped over one of the many wires that go to the alarm system, and it took several days for it to short out and cause the alarm to go off.
But why did I feel the urge to go home? Why did I think something was happening to my daughter? It must have been the fear she felt when the fire department pulled her out of the shower.
Parental Instinct? The same thing that my mother felt for Walter?
When Assisi was born I knew that I had to do something to improve the safety of my house and business to protect her and my coworkers. I knew what it was like to be poisoned by diaznon. Could I bear the pain of having her come into contact with that chemical or any other toxic product that could hurt her in any way? My decision to go organic was quick and easy. Was it Parental Instinct?
For the most part I would say yes. Until Assisi was born, I had used chemical fungicides and herbicides. I had already discontinued using all insecticides except one for the control of tree borers. I knew that anything that ended in "-cide" could not be safe. Webster’s definition is: "person or thing that kills." I had heard of poisonings that occurred due to parental neglect. Neglecting to store a product safely, to read the entire label, the laziness to clean or dispose of a tool or container properly, when used in conjunction with a chemical "-cide". I know that 99% of the deaths or injuries are accidental and that the parent involved in an incident where harm is caused to a child was forgetful, hurried or lacked Parental Instinct.
It is normally after an incident that has caused harm to a loved one, child, spouse or best of friends, pets included, that makes a person wonder what could have been done to prevent an accident or a dangerous occurrence to repeat itself. The time to read about or educate ourselves over a topic is before we get involved with it, before we decide to purchase it, before we as adults or as consumers allow someone to bring a "-cide" onto our property.
Working on this and past newsletters, researching articles and products that can be sold safely at Rohde’s, has helped me understand my fears of chemicals. My need to maintain my environment safe and "-cide" free for Assisi, Victor, Sandra and Alfred, our attack dog, at home, my coworkers and all of the thousands of friendly customers who come to our Nursery. And, of course, Boo and Phoebe our watch cats.
Before you quit reading, I have to request that you go to this web site.
Be prepared to be shocked by what you read and what you see. Pass this web address on to all of your friends, relatives, even your enemies.
At our store we have two copies of CommoneSense Pest Control. You can come in and browse through a copy.
Of course, we also have the book for sale, but that is not the intent of this article.