Fall started all of a sudden this year! Now is the time to bring in any remaining vegetables to ripen, or cover them with a row cover designed to take frosts into the mid-20s. Plant bulbs, wildflower mixes and hardy annuals. Harvest apples and pears, and sow seeds of hardy trees and shrubs.
With row covers and cold frames as protection crops can still be harvested into November. Ventilate plants in frames and give air and water freely. When it is cold, cover with mats or straw and do not let the sun shine on an open frame full of frozen plants.
Finish digging potatoes early in the month in case we get a heavy frost.
Harvest Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, spinach and herbs. Harvest and store cabbages late in the month: turn them upside down to dry, take off extra leaves and place them in a bin of sand in a cellar. Or, place the cabbages in a trench filled with sand, cover them with more sand and place a water-proof cover (open at both ends) over the trench to keep them dry. Close the ends with straw when frosty. Thin spinach and lettuce planted last month. If you have protected your pepper plants from frosts and heavy frost is on the way, pull up the plants and hang them upside down to ripen fruits. Harvest ripe squash and pumpkins, leaving a one to one and a half inch stem. Dig, divide and transplant garlic and shallots. Hang onions to dry in an airy cool place. Cut asparagus and perennial herbs back before winter. Carrots may be left in the ground and covered with two feet of straw, leaves or peat moss to pick as needed most of the winter. To prevent voles, cover the carrot bed with hardware cloth before you place the straw.
Plant bulbs this month, finishing by November 15; give a top dressing of bone meal to the previous season’s bulbs beds. Divide and replant peonies and plant wildflower seed.
Divide perennials late in the month, after cool weather begins, into November. Sow seeds of late-blooming perennials (to sprout in spring). Trim lavenders and other shrubby herbs to a few inches and give them a light dressing of manure.
If not already done, dig tuberoses, dahlias, amaryllis, gladioli and other tender bulbs. Spread them out to dry in a warm room, clean off hair roots and decaying foliage and pack them up in dry boxes of sawdust. Keep your bulbs in a cool, dark, dry, frost-free location. Weed established bulb beds and spread bone meal as a top dressing.
Harvest apples and pears for storage when the trees are dry. To test for ripeness gently twist fruit gently one way or the other. If it comes off easily it is ready to pick. Place harvested fruit in heaps in a shed to dry further for 10 to 14 days. Examine each fruit for bruises, which will cause rot in storage. Wipe each one dry, wrap in paper and store in barrels; or, wipe dry and place in dry sand in the barrels. Keep in a cool, dry cellar away from frost.
Transplant trees, shrubs and fruit trees late in month.
Watch for leafhoppers on roses and spray before severe frosts occur to get last generation before winter. To protect tender roses over the winter, mound each plant with soil about 6 inches deep and place a layer of evergreen branches over that. In the spring the soil can be removed gradually, about an inch at a time. In the spring, uncover the plants gradually. Use a gentle jet of water from a hose once a week or so, finishing about May 20. If a heavy late frost threatens, place the evergreens over the crown of the plant again, removing them when weather warms.