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“The World-Class Battlefield Next Door” - page 9 / 12





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October in the Garden

Judy Diorio, Blackridge Garden Club

In general, Pittsburgh falls into the USDA plant hardiness zone 6a, and our city’s average last and first killing frost dates are May 26th and September 20th. Our gardening seasons extend well beyond those dates, of course, and we will be quite active with chores throughout October:

  • Complete planting of broad-leaved and needle-leaved evergreens before October 15, making sure to water them in thoroughly.

  • Plant deciduous trees and shrubs after leaf fall between October 15 and December 1.

  • Hold off on pruning your woody plants until the late dormant season; remember not to prune them while leaves are forming or falling.

  • Plant spinach, garlic, cabbage, and kale, including ornamental types, in addition to bare-root roses, and spring- flowering bulbs. Divide rhubarb, iris and daylily clumps.

  • If we continue to have dry conditions, thoroughly water trees, shrubs, planting beds, lawns, and especially ever greens, throughout the month.

  • After the first killing frost, cut back blackened portions of perennials, pull annuals, and tidy the garden for winter. Be careful to compost healthy plants, but throw away any diseased and/or insect-infested leaves and plants. If any of your plants had leaf spot, powdery mildew, or other fungal diseases, carefully rake up the leaves and fruit and discard them.

  • For blooming, both Christmas cactuses and poinsettias need to be kept indoors in a spot where they get ten hours of bright light and fourteen hours of total darkness. Room temperatures should be 65-70 degrees for the poinsettias and a little cooler, 55-60 degrees, for the Christmas cactuses.

  • If you have compost that is ready to use, apply a one or two inch layer to the vegetable garden. Additionally, consider planting a cover crop, such as clover, rye, or vetch.

  • After several hard frosts, add mulch to your perennial beds to conserve soil moisture, protect the root system , and help prevent heaving of shallow-rooted plants.

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