Rohde’s October Organic Gardening Calendar
We are in USDA Cold Hardiness Zone 8a with an annual minimum temperature of 15 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit and in Texas AgriLife Extension District 4 (East Region) - North (Dallas).
Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday November 7, 2010, 2:00 am.
Average Date of First Moderate Fall Freeze for Dallas Area: November 15, 2010 with a 10% probability of having 28oF or less on an earlier date, based on an average of data for the most current 30 year period from 1971 to 2000, recorded at Love Field Airport, Dallas, Texas. (Dec 09 at 50% probability).
First Light Freeze (32oF to 29oF): Nov 04 at 10% probability, Nov 25 at 50% probability.
Light Freeze: (sometimes called ‘Frost’) of 29-32 degrees F (-1.7 to 0 degrees C) Tender plants killed, with little destructive effect on other vegetation.
Moderate Freeze: 25-28 degrees F (-3.9 to –2.2 degrees C) Widely destructive effect on most vegetation with heavy damage to fruit blossoms, tender & semi-hardy plants.
Severe Freeze: (‘Hard’ freeze): 24 degrees F or less (-4.4 degrees C or less). Heavy damage to most plants. Ground freezes solid to various depths based on temperature, length of temperature, moisture content, and soil type.
Winter Solstice (First Day of Winter): December 21, 2010 at 5:38 pm (evening) CST (Central Standard Time)
Holidays and Observances
Oct 4: Feast of St Francis of Assisi
The feast commemorates the life of St Francis, who was born in the 12th century and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment. It is a popular day for pets to be “blessed”.
Oct 9: Leif Erikson Day
Leif Erikson Day honors a Viking explorer known as Leif Erikson. He is believed to be the first recorded Nordic person to have visited the area that is now the United States. It is believed that he visited Baffin Island and Labrador around 1000 CE.
Oct 11: Columbus Day (All except CA, HI, NV)
Columbus Day, which is annually on the second Monday of October, remembers Christopher Columbus' as the first European to arrival to the Americas on October 12, 1492, and the discoverer of the New World. (At least, first well known European as the Vikings kept it to themselves.) This holiday is controversial because the European settlement in the Americas led to the demise of the history and culture of the indigenous peoples. Most celebrations are concentrated around the Italian-American community. The celebrations in New York and San Francisco are particularly noteworthy. In Hawaii Columbus Day is also known as Landing Day or Discoverer's Day.
Columbus day is a public holiday in many parts of the United states, but is not a public holiday in California, Nevada and Hawaii. Native Americans’ Day is celebrated in South Dakota, while Indigenous People’s Day is celebrated in Berkeley, California.
Columbus Day originated as a celebration of Italian-American heritage and was first held in San Francisco in 1869. The first state-wide celebration was held in Colorado in 1907. In 1937, Columbus Day become a holiday across the United States. Since 1971, it has been celebrated on the second Monday in October. The date on which Columbus arrived in the Americas is also celebrated as the Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) in Latin America and some Latino communities in the USA. However, it is a controversial holiday in some countries and has been re-named in others.
Oct 31: Halloween
Halloween originated as a pagan festival in parts of Northern Europe, particularly around what is now the United Kingdom. Many European cultural traditions hold that Halloween is a time when magic is most potent and spirits can make contact with the physical world. In Christian times, All Hallows’ Eve, became a celebration of the evening before All Saints’ Day, a time to pray for the dead and honor the saints. Immigrants from Scotland and Ireland brought the holiday to the United States.
The commercialization of Halloween started in the 1900s, when postcards and die-cut paper decorations were produced. Halloween costumes started to appear in stores in the 1930s and the custom of 'trick-or-treat' appeared in the 1950s. The types of products available in Halloween style increased with time. Now Halloween is a very profitable holiday for the manufacturers of costumes, yard decorations and candy.
Samhain is a festival held on October 31–November 1 in Celtic cultures of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Means roughly "summer's end". Marked the end of the harvest, the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half". The Gaulish calendar appears to have divided the year into two halves: the 'dark' half, beginning with the month Samonios (the October/November lunation), and the 'light' half, beginning with the month Giamonios (the April/May lunation). The entire year may have been considered as beginning with the 'dark' half, so that the beginning of Samonios may be considered the Celtic New Year's Day.
People paid tribute to Samhain, the lord of death, to honor the dying year and souls who were no longer among the living. It was believed that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was the thinnest on this night; because some animals and plants were dying with the coming cold weather. The spirits of dead people could come 'alive' and walk among the living. The sun god was also honored in thanksgiving for the harvest and a central part of the festival was lighting a bonfire, a reflection of the sun. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.
The Gaelic custom of wearing costumes and masks, was an attempt to copy the spirits or placate them, and avoid being harmed by them. In Scotland the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white. Samhnag, or large turnips, were hollowed-out and carved with faces to make lanterns, and also used to ward off harmful spirits.
Guisers — men in disguise, were prevalent in 16th century in the Scottish countryside. Children going door to door “guising” (or “Galoshin” on the south bank of the lower Clyde) in costumes and masks carrying turnip lanterns, offering entertainment of various sorts (tricks), in return for food or coins, were traditional in 19th century, and continued well into 20th century. At the time of mass transatlantic Irish and Scottish immigration that popularized Halloween in North America, Halloween in Ireland and Scotland had a strong tradition of guising and pranks.
Halloween is also known as Nut-crack Night, Thump-the-door Night or Apple and Candle Night. Some people call Halloween Bob Apple Night or Duck Apple Night. This comes from a traditional game played at this time of year and known as 'apple bobbing' or 'apple ducking'. A bucket or other container is filled with water and one or more apples are floated on the water. The contestants take turns trying to catch an apple with their teeth. They must hold their hands behind their backs at all times.
Some people believe that apple bobbing is a reminder of the way women accused of witchcraft in the middle ages were tried. They were tied to a chair and repeatedly ducked into a river or pond. If a woman drowned, she was declared innocent. If she survived, she was declared a witch and burnt at the stake. Others think that apple bobbing is a way for young people to predict who they will marry or whether their partner is faithful.
The latest (9 September 2010) NOAA ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) Diagnostic Discussion issued by the Climate Prediction Center (CPS) / NCEP (National Centers for Environmental Prediction) says that La Niña strengthened during August 2010. It is expected to last at least through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2010-11. It will either persist near the present strength, or strengthen into the winter, and become at least a moderate to strong event. La Niña can contribute to increased Atlantic hurricane activity, and can suppressed hurricane activity across the central and eastern tropical North Pacific.
The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center at Camp Springs Md, in their “Summary of the (Seasonal Climate) Outlook for Non-Technical Users (Ha-Ha!) for September 16 2010 () says in summation that:
For Fall and early Winter: above normal temperatures are favored for Northern Alaska, large parts of the Lower 48 States, except for the Pacific / West Coast (below average temps), the Northwest, and in the Southeast extending northward along the East Coast to New England. Probabilities are greatest in the Desert Southwest into West Texas.
For Winter through Spring: the probabilities of below normal temperatures are enhanced in most of Alaska (not North Alaska?) the Pacific Northwest, the Northern Rockies, and extending eastward into the Northern Plains and the Western Great Lakes. The probabilities of above normal temperatures are enhanced in much of the Southern U.S. by the expectations of a moderate to strong La Niña.
For Fall and early Winter: La Niña conditions favor above average precipitation amounts for the Pacific Northwest, and below average precipitation amounts across much of the South from the Southwest to the Southeast. Hurricane landfall during October or November would temper precipitation in the Southeast of course.
For Winter through Spring: enhanced probabilities of above average precipitation in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies in the fall and winter seasons, and in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys during winter. Probabilities of below median precipitation amounts are enhanced across most of the Southern U.S. during this entire period.
Bottom Line: Warmer and dryer winter and spring for us.
Fall garden planting dates are based on how long it takes the vegetable to reach harvest, versus the time to the first average freeze date, and the temperature need to set fruit. Some vegetables need cooler weather to set fruit like tomatoes. With our wacky El/La Niño’s, Niña’s and Hurricanes, you may get by planting earlier or later. Hard core gardeners keep logs and record the particulars; rainfall, temperatures, soil conditions, hours of sunlight, etc. to give them an idea of when to plant for their area. The rest of us just go by what someone tells them to do in one of these gardening calendars. These recommendations are derived from five or more planting guides covering Dallas/Ft. Worth and neighboring regions. They are all Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service sources, but even then, they can differ from a few days to a month or so.
Generally you will plant seeds earlier in the vegetable’s planting period and transplants in the later. You can plant either unless it is specified in the tables below. We do have seeds and transplants now.
When to Plant
GARLIC (Allium sativum ): First half of October. We have a nice selection of garlic bulbs in stock now.
KALE (Brassica oleracea var. acephala): First half of October.
LEEKS (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum ): Transplants only thru entire month .
LETTUCE, BUTTERHEAD (L. sativa var. capitata): First half of October.
LETTUCE, HEAD, CRISPHEAD, ICEBERG (Lactuca sativa): First half of October.
LETTUCE, LEAF, Looseleaf (L. sativa var. crispa): First half of October.
LETTUCE, COS or ROMAINE (L. sativa var. romana): First half of October.
ONION, BULBING (Allium cepa): Seed only. First half of Oct, maybe all month.
ONION, BUNCHING [SCALLIONS] (Allium cepa): First half of Oct. We have a good stock of red, white and yellow onion sets in now. Plant now for Scallions and in January or February for bulbs.
PEAS, ENGLISH (Pisum sativum): All mont. Edible podded not recommended.
RADISH (Raphanus sativus): All month till Nov 15
RUTABAGA (Brassica napus var. napobrassica): First half of October.
SPINACH (Spinacia oleracea) : All month.
TURNIP (Brassica rapa var. rapifera): Greens and roots. All month.
The following vegetables are at the end of their planting dates or a few weeks past their planting dates. You may still be able to plant them if you use transplants, not seeds, and do so as soon as possible. With La Niña bringing warmer and drier weather, you maybe able to get a harvest. Be ready to protect them if it does freeze by the middle of November.
BEETS (Beta vulgaris)
BRUSSELS SPROUTS (Brassica oleracea): Tansplants only.
CARROT (Daucus carota var. sativus)
CHARD, SWISS (Beta vulgaris var. cicla)
COLLARD (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)
GREENS (hybrid of Chinese cabbage x stubble turnip)
MUSTARD greens (Brassica juncea)
PARSLEY curly leaf (P. crispum), Italian, or flat leaf (P. neapolitanum)
FYI from Tamu PlantAnswers: “…Brussels sprouts, collards, and kale contain more protein than does milk.” If only Brussels Sprouts weren’t so yucky.)
If you have planted any of the Cole crops, like cabbage, collards and broccoli, watch out for cabbage loopers or cabbage worms. These are those green worms that riddle leaves like they've been blasted with a shotgun. Apply Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to control these hungry pests. Bt controls only caterpillars and is very environmentally safe.
Rohde’s has a nice selection of garlic bulb varieties and a good supply of red/white/yellow onion sets.
Plant cover crops in empty flower and veggie beds and gardens: Plant clovers, hairy vetch, or perennial rye instead of mulching, and till them in next spring before they flower. Elbon (cereal) rye is a cover crop that can assist in controlling the root-knot nematode in the soil if it’s a problem. If you plant elbon rye, it should be cut or tilled in before it gets to be a foot tall. For all cover crops, wait at least a couple of weeks after tilling before you plant anything else, to allow the organic matter to decompose.
Fertilize every three to four weeks on established vegetables.
Plant all perennial herbs, plus cool season annual herbs.
We will not have all of the flowers we normally carry at any one time, but we try to carry what we can get that is appropriate for the season and for our location. We also try to carry the unusual you wouldn’t normally find in the mass-market stores. You are best off coming by weekly to see what comes in. We will have new plant shipments coming in most every week.
This is still a good month for planting cool-weather-loving flowers. Fall-blooming annuals and perennials can be kept in flower longer and will look better if their maturing flowers are removed.
Plant fall flowering annuals now. You can buy plants that are in bud, but don’t buy them while flowering. Flowers will consume too much of the plant’s energy that is needed in establishing roots and foliage. If you have too, pluck the flowers off.
Some annuals that flower in the fall: Alyssum, Asters, Calendula, Dianthus (Pinks), English daisies, Flowering Cabbage And Kale, Larkspur, Nasturtiums, Pansies, Petunias, Phlox, Ornamental Swiss Chard, Sweet Pea, Snapdragons, Violas
Sow seeds for Poppies, Sweet Pea, Love-in-the-Mist, Larkspur, Phlox and bachelor buttons.
Divide crowded beds of your spring and summer flowering perennials like amaryllis, cannas, native columbines, coreopsis, coneflowers, shasta daisies, daylilies, dianthus, irises, oxalis, phlox, violets, and other perennials. Give them away if you don’t have room for them.
Re-plant or move any perennials that have already bloomed that are in the wrong place..
Remove stalks and foliage from perennials as they die back to the ground when the plants go dormant unless they are seed heads for the birds. Covering with mulch with the first freeze will help protect them during the winter.
Bring Plants Inside for Winter
October is the month to prepare those plants you want to bring inside for the winter. These plants are usually tropical or semi-tropical “House Plants” that should have been planted in pots in anticipation of being over wintered indoors or in a greenhouse. Otherwise they would be used as annuals and allowed to die in the winter.
These plants can’t take temperatures below 45oF usually and nights during October can drop into the 50’s and 40’s. This month is when you normally turn off the A/C and open windows. This will make acclimating the plants to indoor temperature and humidity easier as it should be the same inside and out. Indoors will be darker though. So move the plants to a lightly shaded area outdoors, progressing to a heavily shady area, during a two week period.
If you don’t turn off the climate controls to the house, you can bring the plants in for the night for a few days, then bring the plants indoors in the evening though the night for a few days, then during the day while at work for a few days, while taking them outside in the shade in-between their indoor stints for a couple of weeks. Point of this is to slowly increase the plants’ time inside the house with drier, warmer, darker conditions.
What you don’t want to bring in are bugs. Spray your plants thoroughly with an organic insecticidal plant oil, two ounces per gallon citrus oil, or insecticidal soap. You may have to do this two, maybe three times, at least three days apart, during their time outside. This may be overkill, but dealing with aphids, mealybugs, and scale on a lot of plants, indoors, during the winter, is a pain in the butt. Also drench the pot with neem products, plant oil products, or two ounces per gallon citrus oil. Leaving the pot in a saucer and letting the drench fill and soak the bottom of the pot where the drainage medium is, for ten minutes will ensure getting all of the bugs hiding there. Too long can hurt the roots though. Commercial products should include adjuvants, surfactants, wetting agents, or whatever, to break the surface tension of the spray to help wet the dry surfaces of the foliage and soil. For home made products, you can add a teaspoon at most of liquid dishwashing soap per finished gallon of spray or drench, or recommended amount of insecticidal soap, Bio-Wash, or Plant Wash. Addition of Green Sense Kelp Extract and/or Liquid Molasses should help either of the spray or drench. Lightly dusting diatomaceous earth on the soil of the pot will also help while the plants are inside.
Trim your hanging baskets and container plants before you bring inside to give them a few weeks to re-grow and fill in to look better.
Cut back on fertilizing for the winter also. Don’t fertilize at all if the plants will go dormant during the winter.
With larger plants like small palm or citrus trees, I tie a length of rolled plastic gardening, safety, or small livestock fence, four to six feet tall, around the pot and pull it up like a girdle to condense the spread of the plant. I can cram more of them in the sun room. Chinch off the bottom of the fence with rope, to constrict it around the trunk, and to prevent it from pulling all the way off as you girdle the plant. I place them on a 3/4” piece of plywood with fice (don’t use four) casters on the bottom, to move around for cleaning, or rolling outside on good days to leach the soil out. You can tie a pull cord on an edge of the plywood, or leave a hole to hook with a handle to ease pulling around.
To save space, and cheaply increase the numbers of plants, you can take a cutting of what you want to over winter indoor. This can work on your favorite tender perennials to ensure they make the winter, your annuals to get a jump on spring, or your tropical house plants. We carry an organic rooting gel and Green Sense Kelp Extract that contain growth regulators, including cytokinins, auxins, and gibberellins.
Plant wildflower seeds now through the beginning of November, if you haven’t done so already.
Seeded annuals like California poppy, and bluebonnets should be sown early this month.
Ornamental grasses combine beautifully with fall-flowering perennials in the landscape, and many are at their best in the fall.
During the winter, while the rest of your garden is brown and dormant, ornamental grasses add color, texture, and movement.
As an alternative to planting a few different kinds of grasses for variety in the garden, do a wall of one kind as a backdrop for other plants, ornaments, or landscape features. They can also screen unsightly views of neighbors, sheds, fences or section of your property.
Grasses are susceptible to crown rot, especially in winter. The majority prefers well drained soils in sunny location. Cut back grasses to short clumps in early spring. You can divide clumps every three years or so as some will do better, as the centers die while the grass grows outward.
Rohde’s carries a large selection of varieties that do well here.
Trees, Shrubs and Vines
The fall season is the best time to plant new trees and shrubs. Plants endure less drought and heat stress, and their roots have months to grow and become established before spring growth begins.
Come to Rohde’s if you're planning on buying trees and shrubs. Ask about our delivery, planting, and warranties. Don’t forget the soil amendments; GreenSense Kelp Extracts for root stimulation, GreenSense Mycor granules to inoculate the plant with mycorrhiza fungi, compost, and a variety of mulches.
Fall color will vary greatly from year to year, even on the same tree. Most dependable in Texas, however, are Shumard Red Oak, Ginkgo, Chinese Pistachio, and Sweetgum in sandy soils, various maples and Crape Myrtles. Pick your trees in their fall colors if this is an important aspect for purchasing the trees.
Consider some rarely used trees this fall. Larger trees to consider; Montezuma Cypress, Cedar Elm, Lacey Oak, Chinkapin Oak, Texas Ash, or Bur Oak. Some smaller trees to look at; Texas Mountain-Laurel, Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum, Desert-Willow, Eve's Necklace, Goldenball Leadtree, or American Smoketree.
Hollies and nandinas are good for foundation plantings. They come in manageable heights and have a variety of different leaf shapes, colors, and styles.
Pick some fruiting or berry plants for the birds:
American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) French mulberry. Deciduous. Clustered purple berries.
Cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana) Favorite among birds. 15-20 feet tall. Fast-growing, glossy evergreen. Loamy, well-draining soil. Drought-tolerant in these conditions. White blooms in spring, black fruit in fall. Compact hybrids are available.
Holly (Ilex cornuta, 'Nellie R. Stevens,' or Burford) Reb Berries.
Juniper (Juniperus virginiana) Juniperus of the family Cupressaceae. Birds eat the blue berries.
Mexican plum tree (Prunus mexicana) 15- to 35-foot-tall native Bees and butterflies love the flowers. Small purple plums Sun to dappled shade in a well-draining soil.
Pyracantha (Pyracantha coccinea) Fall red berries. Fermented berries can intoxicate birds. Thorny so good for nesting.
Southern Magnolia. (Magnolia grandiflora) Large, cone like fruits that follow the blooms open to reveal several dozen bright red seeds which are eaten by squirrels and a number of bird species. Smaller hybrids such as "Little Gem” are available.
Viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum) Sweet Viburnum. Berries turn from red to black. Best in partial shade.
Yaupon Holly. (Ilex vomitoria) drought-resistant evergreen native. Small red berries on female plant. Takes sun to shade, poor drainage and varying soils.
Don't fertilize after the beginning of October. Watch for fungal disease with the cooler weather.
Prune twiggy, crossing, or dead canes. All foliage is left on the bush. Labor Day, first Monday in September, is a good time to do this. Remove sucker growth by cutting the canes off as close to the root stock trunk as possible. For climbers, to encourage growth of more flowering laterals and stimulate production of new canes, do not cut back long canes unless they are outgrowing the allotted space. Everblooming varieties are cut back to two or three bud eyes on all laterals that bore flowers during the past year. For established plants, oldest canes are removed annually at the base. Ramblers and once blooming varieties should be pruned after blooming as they will normally bloom on year old wood.
Once the weather begins to cool off and the early morning and nights become more humid, watch for both fungus and insect problems.
The graft union would benefit from protection, but it need not be as heavy as for zones 6 and below. Mounding with leaves or a shredded mulch should suffice. However, the rule about discontinuing pruning at the end of summer holds for zones 7 and 8 too.
Try propagating your roses with cuttings. Now’s a good time to do so. Cut sections of one to two feet of pencil-thick wood. Cut sections a quarter inch above an outward-facing bud. Then, cut the sections into pieces eight or nine inches long. Make an angled cut above the top bud and a straight cut below the bottom bud. Soak the pieces in a Green Sense Kelp Extract mixture overnight. Plant in well draining soil like Green Sense Potting soil. Keep soil moist with the Kelp solution. Pieces should root within eight weeks.
Wait until December or January to do any major tree or shrub pruning to avoid disease and stress problems.
Reshape shrubs with light pruning as needed, but do not prune spring-flowering shrubs or vines until after they bloom.
While you can see which limbs have green leaves or not, mark or prune broken, diseased or dangerous limbs. Do not make flush cuts and use no pruning paint or wound dressing except for Green Sense Tree Goop. Best to wait till December or January to prune Oak trees to avoid the Oak Decline or Wilt disease’s, insect host.
If your Wisteria doesn’t bloom, root prune it by sticking a shovel in the ground several feet away from the plant to cut some of the roots. This may stress the plant enough to prompt it to flower in an attempt to keep the specie propagated. Don’t over do it. You do not want to really kill it, just to scare it.
Do not prune the root knees around bald cypress trees. If they are in the way of mowing, plant ground cover or mulch the area.
Root- and top-prune native plants that you want to transplant in winter.
Pests and Disease
Tent caterpillars come out in the spring and early summer. Webworms come out in fall, hence their other name of Fall Webworms.
Tent caterpillars use their web for protection when they are not feeding. They wander out to feed. Webworms eat within their webs. Trichogramma Wasps early in spring will get the eggs, but not the adults. Dormant plant oils in the winter will get the eggs also. Bt is effective, but works better on young worms. If you can tear up the web with a garden hose sprayer or stick, birds, lizards, and other insects can eat them. Plant oil sprays can work, but require complete coverage, which is hard in the top of a tree. Spinosad containing products will work also, but will harm bees if wet. Spray in the evening so it will be dry when bees come out in the day. Spray Bt or Spinosad on foliage around the webs, as that will be what they eat first. You don’t need to spray the whole tree. Ordinarily the tree will grow new leaves with little harm to itself when the caterpillars finish their life cycle. Just wait them out and release wasps or use dormant oils next year.
Harvest pecans as they fall to the ground-as their quality declines quickly.
Clean up fallen leaves, particularly around fruit and nut trees to prevent over wintering of pests and disease. Compost the yard litter well to destroy any pathogens. May need to shred the litter and subject it to solarization prior to composting. Solarization is commonly used to control weeds and pests in the soil prior to planting. Expose well-moistened crop residues-- layered and sealed between two sheets of clear plastic--to several days of Texas sunshine to effectively destroy pests and disease organisms.
Spray weeds and grass around tree trunks with vinegar. Use 8–10% with one ounce orange oil, one tablespoon molasses and one teaspoon liquid soap per gallon. Better to physically clear the grass away from the trunk of trees as far as you think is visually appealing (more the better for the tree) and replace with compost and/or mulch, leaving a clear area directly against the trunk. Clear away soil to expose the root flare if the tree is planted too far in the ground.
Lawn, Turf Grasses and Ground Covers
Plant cool-season grasses such as rye and fescue now. It is also time to plant cover crops. Finish warm-season lawn grass plantings by seed by early October. Quality solid sod can be planted anytime that it is available. Be sure to wet the soil of the sod before planting. Apply a thin layer of compost to the surface after planting.
Plant perennial rye instead of annual rye. Annual rye grows faster so needs more mowing, watering and fertilizing, plus it’s more disease prone. But we are not carrying it this fall. Overseeding with perennial rye grass at the rate of six pounds per 1000 square feet. We don’t recommend doing this though, as it slows down the warm season grasses and doesn’t die off fast enough in the spring causing fungal problems. A thick winter grass may cut down on spring weeds being able to germinate, but does hinder the summer grasses.
You can still plant groundcovers and borders. Frog fruit and horseherb are two native groundcovers that are good for the shade. Try oregano for a border in full sun. Other common shady ground covers including horseherb, Asian jasmine, English ivy, Persian ivy, purple wintercreeper, liriope and ophiopogan.
October is time for the most important lawn fertilization of the year. It will promote root growth through the winter and help the grass survive some watering neglect to give better weed resistance and growth in the spring. It is still warm enough to give the soil microbes time to breakdown the fertilizer before the ground gets too cold, and give the grass time to take advantage of the nutrients while it’s still growing. Use Green Sense All Purpose Lawn & Garden fertilizer of course.
Apply Greensand at 20 to 40 pounds per 1000 square foot now if not done in the spring. Can do this once a year, but as with all fertilizers, you can put too much down. A soil test is highly recommended. Greensand is an ancient seabed sediment with deposits of dark greenish grains of glauconite (an iron potassium silicate), usually mixed with clay or sand. It loosens clay soils and increases the water holding capability of the sand and clay. It’s a good source of iron but in a very slow release form (hydrated silicate of iron, about 19-20% iron oxide), a large amount of potassium (about 5-7% K/potash), and other trace minerals (as many as thirty), including about 2% magnesium, and 2% phosphorous (P) in Texas Greensand.
Spread a half inch layer of compost to poorly growing parts of the lawn.
Fall is also a good time to test your soil. Rohde’s recommends “Texas Plant & Soil Lab” at 5115 West Monte Cristo Road, Edinburg, Texas 78541-8852, 956-383-0739. They can give you organic recommendations. Doing a soil test now will let you know what to apply to your lawn and gardens. Organic amendments are usually slow release, so applying now will let it break down to be available in the spring.
Pests, Disease and Weeds
Cool season weeds and unwanted winter grasses will start to germinate this month. From the middle of September through October, apply corn gluten meal to deter seed germination of weeds. Organic gardeners report better results from the dust like corn gluten than the granular product. It should be applied before germination of the weeds. The weed will germinate and usually forms a shoot, but does not form a root. After germination, a short drying period is needed to kill the plants that have germinated but have not formed a root. Timing is critical. If it is too wet during germination, the plants will recover and form a root. This is also true of chemical pre-emergence herbicides. If it does not rain in five days of application, water it in with approximately 0.25 inches of water to distribute the corn gluten around the seeds. Then leave a drying period after germination. It will usually work for about five to six weeks following germination. You may have to make another treatment later to achieve better results if you have a lot of weeds and it rains. Apply 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet two weeks before, after, or in place of fertilizing, as it is a fertilizer also. It is generally about 10% nitrogen by weight. The nitrogen will release slowly over a three to four month period. Use in the first year generally results in a reduction of 50 to 60 percent of the target weeds and two to three years are necessary to match the results of synthetic pre-emergence herbicides.
Brown Patch Fungus is a fungal disease in the lawn. It affects St. Augustine mainly around here and can turn your yard brown almost overnight. It occurs during cool wet weather from spring to fall, but is noticed earlier in the spring and summer. It attacks the grass where the blade attaches to the stolons. Forms a general circular pattern with brown grass in the center and a halo of yellowing grass around the edge of the patch. Grass may grow back with good treatment, through the brown spots, as the roots are usually alive.
Take-All Patch is another fungal disease that can occur between fall and spring for the same reasons as Brown Patch. Take-All Patch differs in that the roots rot, and the grass can not come back without replacement or having it grow back into the area. The infective area is more irregular. Initially the grass blades turn yellow and the roots darken. The results are that you can pull up the runners of the grass with the blades while you only pull up the grass blades with Brown Patch. You don’t usually notice Take-All Patch though until the weather warms in the spring and the grass is stressed and dies back.
Consider a preventive program with Rohde’s aerating your lawn and treating it with corn meal and or Actinovate. Actinovate is an organic bacteria (Streptomyces lydicus strain WYEC 108) that protects lawn roots from a wide range of soil borne diseases and root decay fungi. Along with a soil test for missing minerals, proper fertilizing, and aeration, this will give you the best control over lawn fungus problems. Remember, you will have the fungus infection long before you see it, and it will more difficult to control.
We also have peat moss to acidify the area around grass roots and stolon at the surface. This is where Brown Patch and Take all Patch fungus occur. The fungus doesn’t do well in acidic soils. Peat moss has little nutritional value and has anti-microbial properties so it will not break down quickly. This is why it is not recommended as a soil amendment or potting soil component unless you are growing very acid loving plants. A half-inch is needed. A 3.8 cuft bale of peat moss will cover about a 1000 square feet of lawn. This is a temporary control measure and would have to be repeated every year or two, but can save your lawn until you can get the organic content of the soil up. Quickest way is by applying compost at a half inch every spring and fall, and aerating the lawn and filling the holes with compost. Sulfur does not stay in the vicinity of the grass stolons very long as it is washed away into the ground so it doesn’t work as well as peat moss. Our alkaline black clay is very hard to make acidic because of the pH buffering ability of the limestone base, mostly calcium carbonate. Enough organic materials, like compost, in the soil will adjust the pH automatically to what the plants like. It lowers it in black clay and raises it in sandy soils.
Grubs may be a problem now. The newly hatched grubs are the grass root eaters in mid summer and fall. Grub worm damage results in yellowed areas, less regular in shape than brown patch, and more damaging since roots are eaten. If runners and blades pull easily from the soil and if you find five to ten grub worms or more per square foot, you should treat the area. Beneficial nematodes are the best control. Nematodes are more likely to be available in the fall, as they don’t ship well in the summer. Nematodes also do better in cooler, wetter soils. Under good conditions, nematodes may reduce white grub populations by 50% or more. One microbial pesticide, Bacillus popilliae, or milky spore disease, often is recommended for Japanese beetle grub control in other regions of the U.S., but has not been shown to be effective against Texas turf-infesting white grubs. Spiked sandals sold for aerating turf have been tried with some success for controlling damaging grub populations. According to one study, repeatedly walking over heavily infested turf with the spiked sandals may reduce grub populations up to 50%. We don’t have these sandals though.
Watering and Mowing
But don’t stop watering. Just don’t over do it. Better to water in the morning and at a lesser amount if warranted. Letting the grass go a little dry is better.
Mow when needed, but don’t scalp the grass. With cooler weather, you can lower the mower a little for some grasses. Common Bermuda one and a quarter to two inches, down from two to three inches. St. Augustine one and a half to two and a half inches, down from two to four inches. Zoysia, one to two inches down from two to three inches. These are mowed at about the same height as in summer: Hybrid Bermudas, from a quarter to two and a half inches, depending on variety, buffalograss three inches, fescue three inches.
General Pests and Diseases
To reduce feeding and breeding sites of pests such as crickets, remove any dense vegetation that is right next to the house foundation and clean up piles of bricks, stones, wood or other debris. If you store firewood outdoors, get it up off the ground to help keep bugs out. If possible, stack it with the bark side up or cover the wood to repel rain.
If you have root knot nematode problems in your garden, forego a fall garden and go with planting Elbon rye. Add compost, fertilizer, till and seed.
Rohde’s carriers the full complement of organic pest and disease controls, for both inside and out. Stop by and see.
Fire ants are due to reappear with the fall rains. Other ants will also become active as they all look for food for the winter. Drench mounds with orange oil based mound drench or plant oil products and apply beneficial nematodes. Apply spinosad baits for long term control. Apply the proper baits for the specific ants.
For slugs, use ‘Sluggo” bait. We also have copper tape for raised beds and special plants. Also use traps as no one treatment works as well as several different kinds.
See lawn section for soil-borne fungi.
For other foliage fungal problems like black spot and powdery mildew, we have plant oils, potassium bicarbonate, Serenade, copper sprays, dusting sulfur, Plant Wash, and Garlic Concentrate.
Isolated cases of aphids can be treated with a strong blast of water, Green Sense Citrus Oil, one of our other selections of plant oils, insecticidal soap.
We have Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis products for control of caterpillars.
Garlic sprays will keep mosquitoes away and is an effective fungicide.
Rohde’s carries D.E. or diatomaceous earth in one, five, ten or fifty pound bags. Use it to control insects in dry environments. It does not hurt earthworms in the soil. Useful in treating cracks, wall crevices, wall voids, and attics to repel insects and deny harborage in these areas. It’s effective against pests that live in close association with humans such as cockroaches, silverfish, mites, ants, houseflies, spiders, bedbugs, fleas and crickets. It’s also effective outside in controlling aphids, caterpillars, codling moth, flies, fleas, Chinch bugs, and ants. Apply a band treatment of DE around outside of house, also along baseboards, to kill household pests before they come in for winter. In the garden, apply at night or in the late evening to minimize effects on beneficial insects.
If you are spraying anything, protect yourself with goggles and at least a NIOSH N95 approved Respirator Dust Mask. This stuff may be organic but it could be hazardous to inhale. Don’t take the chance.
Other Things to Do this Month
Mulch all bare soil with shredded tree trimmings. Shredded material from your own property is best. If it is partially composted or mixed with compost, is better. Rubber, colored wood, and pine bark should be avoided.
This is the best time of the year to design a new landscape and dig new beds. Current plantings can be moved if need be, it’s not too cold to work the soil, and the holidays haven’t used up all of your disposable income. Come to Rohde’s and let Sally help you with your designs.
Pine needles will be falling soon. Junipers and Arborvitae also begin shedding needles at this time of year. If you have access, scarf them up for excellent mulch. It’s long lasting, mildly acidic, and repels slugs and snails from your plants.
Leave will be falling soon. Don’t throw them out. Start a compost pile.
Have your soil tested to know what your garden and lawn needs. Rohde’s recommends “Texas Plant & Soil Lab” at 5115 West Monte Cristo Road, Edinburg, Texas 78541-8852, 956-383-0739. They can give you organic recommendations.
Keep bird feeders and bird baths clean and filled.
We have just received a large selection of bird houses, feeders, water baths, and bird/squirrel foods. Purchase now for gifts and for best selection. Consider a second bird bath to fill with play sand for birds to “dust” in. This is as popular an activity as bathing is to birds.
If you are planning on having fallow beds this winter, you can mulch them over the winter, but a better idea is to plant cover crops in the empty beds. This may not be proper for flower beds, but they look fine for vegetable beds. We have the three most popular cover crops of Elbon Rye, Crimson Clover, and Hairy Vetch in stock now.
Most of this calendar is designed for Dallas, Tx in USDA Hardiness Zone 8a, with a predominant soil type of blackland prairie clay.