It’s October in Nanaimo, which means grey skies, rain and a desire for a cup of hot coco. But for many, October also means getting out into the yard to take on an assortment of tasks. October can be a very busy month for the active gardener, starting with raking up the autumnal leaves and broken branches that always manage to litter the property. The arboreal debris is an excellent source material for mulch that can be worked into the garden to help feed next spring’s plantings. This is especially true if put through a chipper to reduce the material to a more easily compost-able size.
 
The fall is the time of harvest so October is perfect for gleaning, clearing the fruit such as autumn apples from the trees, tending to the pumpkins you’ve planted for Halloween and other hardy garden produce. Root crops such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips and even onions can be left in the ground until dug up for use. Covering root crops with mulch will help keep them viable much longer.
 
Summer crops such as peas and beans should all be finished now, so this is a great season for working garden refuse and pea vines into the soil, where they can rot all winter adding nitrogen into the soil in preparation for your planting efforts next spring.
 
Thanks to the region’s benign climate this is also be the season for planting perennials and flowering bulbs that have to remain in the soil over the winter so they can bloom in the spring.
 
Flowering species such as daffodils, hyacinths, anemones and crocus can all be planted right now. Even the brilliant tulips can be planted this month, many authorities say these multi hued flowers can be placed in the soil into early November, especially if the plantings are covered in mulch to help keep them protected and warm all winter.
 
October is also a great time to tend to the trees and shrubs that dot your lot. Dead or discolored twigs from evergreens can be trimmed away now, to encourage a burst of growth in the spring. If seeking a new look next year this is also the right month for replanting shrubs and small trees. Once the leaves have fallen the deciduous trees essentially go dormant so a move now will minimize the shock to the plant.
 
The lawn is also a form of crop so it should be tended to the same as all others. The lawn should be mowed as long as it keeps growing. Grass cuttings are excellent additions to a compost bin, and are welcome soil nutrients that will help the richness and health of your soil.
 
One problem with Nanaimo’s wet climate is its appeal for slugs, pests that can run havoc in a garden. Diligent picking of unwanted gastropods and a last and diligent application of slug bait before the coming of winter will help reduce the numbers of these slimy invaders that will plague you next year.
 
So even if the days are shorter and the ground is damper, there is still plenty of interesting things to do in the yard and garden, things that can benefit you today and things that will energize your yard in the springtime. Talk a walk in your back yard, no doubt you’ll find something interesting to do.