Putting the Garden to Bed...

With just a few weeks left in the Chicagoland growing season, October is the month where you’ll want to monitor the weather fairly closely, as we approach the first frost. The first frost is usually a “light frost”, where nighttime temperatures are between 32F and 28F. At this stage, tender-leaved plants like cucumber, lettuce, and basil are damaged, while hardier plants like kale and cabbage will be fine reaching temperatures as low as 26F. October is also the the time to get the garden ready for bed. This month you’ll want to: -cut back perennial herbs like mint, sage, thyme, lavender and tarragon -dig up rosemary and transplant to a pot for overwintering -remove trellises and store flat on your garden plot or indoors –condition and protect your soil -fully remove diseased plants from the soil -pull weeds, especially weeds with seed heads forming -harvest green tomatoes and basil when nighttime temperatures reach the upper 40s -collect seeds -mulch still-growing cool-weather plants, such as spinach, broccoli and kale (straw mulch and dry leaves are best) -monitor for aphids -transplant strawberries  How to condition your soil: Fall is when to add compost you’ve been making all summer. This is a great time to remove worm castings from your indoor bin or finished compost from your outdoor bin. You’ll create extra room to decompose additional plant debris generated after clearing your garden this month. Haven’t been making compost? Can’t find it at a garden center? You can still add organic matter to condition your garden soil- soak some compost tea bags and water your garden with the brew, or incorporate used coffee grounds or tea into the soil instead. Add 2-4″ of compost or organic matter (such as coffee grounds) to the top layer of soil, then scratch in with a rake to incorporate into top...

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