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Gardening in the Fall: October Gardening Tips

Gardening tips abound for this time of year. Gardening is one pastime that never takes a holiday, especially here in California where it's easy to grow crops year-round. It's still pretty warm here in northern California and so it's hard to believe that we are already deeply committed to our winter garden. In addition to tending the broccoli, lettuce and other greens that do so well in a winter garden, there are the never-ending tasks that must be done every fall. Here is a list of gardening tips for October.

garden tips for winter garden 

Check your soil: summer crops grow fast and strong and there's a reason for that -- they take up nutrients like mad. Now is a good time to check the nutrients and pH of your soil and take action accordingly. Winter crops do best with a pH of 7.0 and you can't go wrong with rich compost to feed your hungry soil.

Clean up: now that your plantings have slowed their pace of growth it's time to prune and clean up. Much of what you gather will be fuel for your compost pile. You'll also want to gather, label and dry any seeds that you want to keep for spring planting and take cuttings from many of your perennials.

Feed your compost: You can rebuild your compost pile by adding all the debris that you're cleaning up from your yard and planting beds. Leaves, trimmings from trees and shrubs along with refuse from summer produce being pulled from your planting beds can all go to rebuild the best fertilizer in the world -- compost.

Plant trees and shrubs: as the weather cools you'll want to install any trees and shrubs that you've been wanting. You'll still have to baby them through the winter but keeping them watered will be less of a challenge than if you had planted them in warmer weather.

Other clean up tasks: clean those bird feeders as you'll be putting them on winter duty to keep your feathered friends happy during the cold winter months. Clean and store those containers that you won't be using through the winter. Inspect, clean and repair your tools. You won't be using them as much over the winter but there's no sense waiting until spring.

Shift and store: bring in those potted plants that you know won't make it through the winter outside. Find them a nice sunny window where they can enjoy the winter months in style.

Time to feed: Hold off pruning your roses until the weather gets much cooler. Meanwhile it's a good time to feed roses, camellias, hydrangeas, azaleas and rhododendrons. Be sure to use fertilizer made especially for their needs.