By now you probably know of my obsession to extend the season. I’m growing cool weather plants so I can enjoy the garden as long as possible. In the vegetable garden, things like beets, carrots, cole crops (cabbage, kale, collards, etc.), arugula, corn mache, dandelion greens, Swiss chard, tatsoi and other things are all grown with some protection.
Some are grown in cold frames, which are basically small unheated greenhouses. Mine are only four feet wide. The lid is transparent and banked at 35 degrees, facing south to catch the low angle of the sun in the winter.
Other plants live in hoop houses made of wire or PVC pipe. I use floating row covers and clear plastic over the hoops that keep the plant alive for the winter.
You never know how they will do. During an easy winter almost everything survives; during a tough one, half of what’s growing could succumb to the cold.
Pansies and flowering kale are two plants that don’t need protection and will go at least until the end of December. Both love cool weather. I’ve been filling up containers with both since the start of the month as impatiens have faded away.
‘Redbor’ is one of my favorite types of flowering kale. It’s deep purple, tree like and extremely hardy. It’s the thriller in the center of a container surrounded by pansies. It’s so great to have color that might last all the way through winter.
October is the perfect month to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. I’ve got my eye on some great cultivars that are on sale at the nursery. I found a four-foot tall pink dogwood with some deer rubbing from last season for $30. That tree will be perfect in a woodland setting as I’m replacing a giant oak that toppled in a storm.
I’m always excited to pursue garden centers this time of the year to add something cool to the garden on the cheap.
Overseed the lawn now to keep it looking great. Use quality seed like Penn State Mix or the products from Jonathan Green. Both are pure seed without filler. Wait until rain and scatter the seed over the grass.
Remove annuals and tender vegetable foliage after frost and add them to the compost pile as long as they were disease free.
Leaves are a great resource. Shred them and use them as mulch or for the compost pile. I keep a pile of shredded leaves next to the compost to add when material from the kitchen goes into the pile.
Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at (412) 965-3278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at EverybodyGardens.com.