Garden “To-Do” List – October

With winter’s approach growing ever more imminent, CREB®’s garden guru has compiled a list of tips and tricks aimed at helping Calgary green thumbs cope with the cold and snow.

-Don’t email me in February asking what to do with the tulip bulbs in your garage. You know what to do and it only takes a few minutes, so get outside and get it done now. Plant tulips, grape hyacinths and lily bulbs as long as the ground is not frozen. It is too late to plant daffodils and hyacinths in Calgary.

-Vegetable gardeners can still plant garlic but make sure to break each bulb up into individual cloves first, plant them pointy side up and push them 10 cm deep into the soil. Finally, label them. You don’t want to accidentally dig up your sprouting garlic when planting your other veggies in the spring. Buying garlic at the farmer’s market should mean it is local and hardy but not always. Ask.

-Save your leaves or give them to the city for their pumpkin and leaf recycling program. It runs into November and there are several drop off areas so check www.calgary.ca for more details.

-If you save leaves to use in your own garden, run your lawn mower over them first to shred them up a bit and then dump them in layers up to 30 cm deep over newly planted bulbs or tender perennials. If you have a wealth of leaves, store them in bags for use in your compost or later garden making efforts.

-Soil left in pots on the patio might get soggy from rain and melting snow. It is buyer beware and cheap pots filled with wet soil may crack or split when they freeze in winter. Dump out pots and turn them upside down.

-Soil left in pots on the patio might dry out due to Chinooks. If they face south, become ashtrays in the winter, or have heat reflected back on them from a patio door they may burst spontaneously into flames later this winter. See point five and empty them.

-Wash any potted herbs or other plants brought indoors from the deck or patio. It’s hard to leave a plant freezing outside, but you are going to regret it if you bring them in and don’t wash them first. Suddenly you are supporting a colony of aphids or spider mites indoors.

-Neat and tidy gardeners cut back plants, including the lawn. Everyone else leaves everything standing tall in the garden. It’s your choice really.

Balzer speaks and writes about gardening, tweets @NoGuffGardener and blogs at www.gardenguru.net.

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