Gardening in October | Powell Tribune

By Katherine Clarkson

Fall is here, the morning is brisk, afternoons are comfortable, and the evening is chilly. It is the time of year to enjoy apples you harvested and pumpkin pie seasoning. But before relaxing, there are some garden tasks that need your attention. Complete the following chores to get your garden prepared for next year.

If you have not planted garlic, onions, or shallots, it is time to do so. Plant them with the pointy side up about 4 inches deep, cover with 6 inches of mulch, and give them plenty of water. Besides the previous vegetables, plant your spring blooming perennials, dig, and divide your summer blooming perennials. After you plant them, make sure you cut back the foliage, cover with 3-4 inches of mulch and water well. When you are done with your watering, drain your hose before we get a hard frost. The next chore is very important for the next season. Collect soil samples for testing to ensure your soil will be healthy soil. If you need help with this, please reach out to me and I will be happy to help! Once you get the results of your soil test, add manure, pine shaving, newspaper, and other organic matter such as tree leaves. If you do not get to test your soil, it will still be very beneficial to add newspaper and other organic matter. Newspapers are safe to add because they make the ink from soy. However, do not add shiny newspaper. Now it is time for cleanup.

Gather all leaves and add them to your soil or compost pile. If you see a neighbor who has an abundance of leaves, ask them if you can have them. Leaves breakdown in six to 12 months and are an excellent source of organic material. Dispose of any diseased or pest-ridden plants. Do not add these to soil or compost pile because the disease will spread to your other plants.
Remove spent vines from climbing structures. While this is not the time to prune, keep in mind the four D’s when pruning. Remove any dead, damaged, diseased, or deranged branches.

One of the most important tasks to complete is to keep a garden journal so you can look back at past success and failure. Some things to note are:

When did you start your seeds indoors?

When did you plant your seeds and seedlings outside?

What exceeded your expectations and what did not?

Were any plants pest-infested or diseases?

When did the first heavy frost hit?

Clean your tools and oil any moving parts. To clean your tools, start with steel wool and get any debris off. Next, wipe your tool with a clean cloth. If you see any rust, use a piece of 80 grit sandpaper to remove it. Apply a small amount of vegetable oil to the metal surfaces. If there are any splinters or rough surfaces on your wooden tools, use a piece of sandpaper to remove them. Next, wipe the wooden handles with linseed oil. Lastly, make a list of supplies you may need for next year. You might save some money by purchasing those supplies during the off season. Assess your tools. Are there any that need to get replaced or sharpened? I sharpen all my tools during the winter and what a difference a sharp shovel makes!

Once you complete the above tasks, you can sit back and enjoy a warm mug of apple cider and decorate with some funky gourds. Thank you for reading and if you have questions or suggestions, please reach out to me at

(Katherine Clarkson is the president of the Park County Master Gardeners. She lives in Wapiti.)

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