October is a glorious time in the Chicago area, and indeed the entire northern latitudes of the United States. There are few areas in the world which can rival the incredible color displays Nature paints here in the Fall. There is a definite crispness to the air. Warm days give way to cool nights; and there’s an abundance of Fall produce — pumpkins, gourds, apples, grapes, and other fruits and vegetables. Football has started! Tailgate parties, Fall festivals, driving tours, and Halloween!

October is a busy time for gardeners — Fall planting, Winter prep and yard cleaning chores:

– Plant your Spring flowering bulbs now. Continue planting until the ground freezes. Be sure to dig in a bulb fertilizer or bone meal when planting, and plant at the correct depth.
– Begin to turn over vegetable gardens as crops are finished.
– Start building stake and burlap windbreaks for Rhododendrons and other plants which need protection from Winter sun and wind especially if the plants are somewhat marginal for our area or in an exposed location.
– Remove spent foliage from plants such as peonies and other perennials. Do leave seedheads of some flowers — Rudbeckia, Coneflower, Sedum, Ornamental Grasses — for the birds and for Winter interest.
– Continue watering azaleas, rhododendrons, newly planted trees and other woody plants.
– Get your snowblower tuned up early before the rush is on, or buy one now while supplies and sales are plentiful.
– Take down and clean your hummingbird feeders. Check and replenish songbird feeders.