Alicia DeVore

What to do in October to keep growing a garden in just a few minutes a day or every few days?

Depending on where you live in the world, October brings a new set of needs for your vegetable garden. Some people are just planting out garlic before their first frost date. Others have been getting ready for the cold for over a month. Still others never will experience a frost.

With all of these different types of circumstances and needs, here is a list of 5 October gardening tips for happy vegetable growing to help you garden this month.

5 October Gardening Tips

Tip #1: Use Row Covers or Cold Frames:

As we approach the colder months, it’s crucial to know how to protect your vegetable garden effectively. Using row covers or cold frames can greatly help extend your growing season and shield your plants from frosty weather.

Row Covers Row covers are a great way to provide your plants with a protective barrier against cold temperatures. They are lightweight, easy to install, and allow sunlight, air, and water to reach your plants. They’re generally made of breathable fabric, perfect for milder temperature drops.

Cold Frames Cold frames are essentially mini greenhouses that trap heat and protect plants from wind and frost. They are particularly useful for extending the growing season by a few weeks. Cold frames are typically more robust and provide superior protection against colder temperatures compared to row covers.

Choosing the Right Protection, the choice between plant cloth (row covers) and plastic coverings (cold frames) depends on the temperature in your area. If the temperature is mildly cold, a plant cloth should suffice. However, if you’re experiencing harsher, colder weather, a plastic covering would be more effective in protecting your plants.

Remember, the key to successful winter gardening is preparation and protection. By understanding your local climate and choosing the right methods, you can enjoy a productive vegetable garden all year round.

Tip #2: Mulch Your Garden Beds:

What is Mulching? Think of mulching as wrapping your garden in a warm, cozy blanket. It creates a protective layer over the soil, keeping it warmer and safe from freezing temperatures.

How Does Mulching Work? Mulch acts like a barrier between the cold air and the soil. It reduces temperature fluctuations, helping to lock in heat. This means your plant roots get an extra layer of protection against the chill.

Options for Mulching There are several fantastic options for mulching materials, each with its own unique benefits:

  1. Compost: Rich in nutrients, compost not only insulates but also enriches your soil and promotes healthy root growth. Plus, it’s an excellent way to recycle kitchen scraps and yard waste!

  2. Straw: Straw is a great insulator and breaks down slowly, adding organic matter to your soil. It’s also a popular choice for veggie gardens.

  3. Shredded Leaves: These provide excellent insulation and break down over time, enriching the soil with essential nutrients.

Your goal is to keep our garden happy and thriving, even when the temperatures drop. With mulching, we’re giving our plants the warmth and protection they need during the colder months.

Tip #3: Water Before a Freeze:

It might sound surprising, but did you know that watering your plants before a freeze can actually help protect them? That’s right!

The Power of Water: Water has a secret superpower when it comes to dealing with freezing temperatures. It releases heat more slowly than dry soil, which means it can provide your precious plants with a much-needed warmth boost.

How Does it Work? When you water your garden before a freeze, the moisture in the soil absorbs heat from the sun during the day. As temperatures drop at night, this heat is slowly released, creating a warm and cozy environment around your plants’ roots. This little bit of extra warmth can make the difference between a plant that thrives and one that doesn’t survive the freeze.

A Word of Caution While watering before a freeze can be beneficial, remember not to overdo it. Too much water can lead to waterlogged soil or even root rot. So, ensure your garden is well-drained and only water as much as your soil and plants can absorb.

Tip #4: Harvest Regularly:

Ever scratched your head, wondering how to keep your garden growing thru the winter months? Well, the trick is regular harvesting.

The Green Thumb Mantra: Regular Harvesting Think of regular harvesting as a friendly nudge to your plants, encouraging them to keep up the good work. It’s like saying, “Hey there, you’re doing awesome. Keep those fruits coming!”

Why Does it Work? Your plants have one big mission: to reproduce. When you harvest regularly, you take away their mature seeds (which are found in your yummy veggies). So, the plant goes, “Time to make more!” and kickstarts another cycle of growing.

Frost Alert! As the cooler months roll in and frost starts peeking around the corner, it’s time for a garden-wide harvest. Make sure to pick all vegetables like green tomatoes that can ripen in the house. Not only does this protect your hard-earned produce from the frost but also sends a message to your plant: “Let’s get those last fruits in before winter hits.”

Quick Harvesting Tips for You

  • Keep your harvesting tool sharp to avoid any plant damage.

  • Harvesting in the morning or later in evening when it’s cool? That’s a winner!

  • Handle veggies with care to prevent any bruising.

Regular harvesting isn’t just about enjoying your garden’s produce; it’s a way to cheer on your plants and keep them productive.

Tip #5: Plant Cover Crops:

Planting cover crops like clover or rye in parts of your garden that you are not using during the colder months of fall and winter is the way to rejuvenate and protect that soil for spring and summer planting.

What is a Cover Crop? Cover crops are nature’s cozy blanket for your garden during the cold months. They provide a protective layer over your soil when it’s not in use but that’s not all they do.

Why You Should Love Cover Crops These green heroes work tirelessly even in the winter to offer fantastic benefits:

  • Boost Soil Health: Cover crops enrich your soil by adding organic matter and nutrients. Plus, they enhance soil structure, ensuring better water absorption and root growth for your future plants.

  • Prevent Erosion: Winter can be tough on exposed soil. Wind and rain might cause erosion, but not if cover crops are there to hold your precious soil in place.

Choosing Your Winter Warriors Clover and rye are great choices for cover crops. Clover is a nitrogen-fixing champ that preps your soil for next year’s plantings. Rye is a robust grower perfect for preventing erosion.

One Last Tip Remember to cut down your cover crops before they go to seed. This allows them to decompose and enrich your soil instead of sprouting up uninvited in your early spring and garden.

Specific things to consider for October:

How to Winterize Soil?

This process, known as winterizing, is easier than you might think, and it sets your garden up for success come springtime.

Step 1: Tidy Up Start by clearing your garden of any dead plants, fallen leaves or other debris. Keeping your garden clean helps prevent diseases from making themselves at home during winter. Add many of these things to your compost pile. Using a compost pile can benefit your garden and use dead plant material.

Step 2: Enrich The Soil Next, consider giving your soil a nutrient boost! Add a few inches of compost or manure to your beds before the ground freezes. This will provide essential nutrients to the soil, helping it stay healthy over the winter.

Step 3: Mulch Away After enriching your garden bed with soil, apply a light layer of straw or mulch. This acts as a protective blanket, preventing erosion and keeping the soil temperature stable.

Step 4: Plant Cover Crops Not planning to grow veggies during winter? That’s okay! Consider planting cover crops like clover or rye. They improve soil health and prevent erosion.

Step 5: Care For Your Perennials If you have perennials, move them into an unheated garage or shed for extra protection from the cold. It’s important to keep the soil on the dry side all winter.

Protect Tender Plants

As autumn rolls around, it’s time to give your tender plants some extra TLC. With a little care and attention, you can help them stay strong as the temperatures drop, ensuring they continue to thrive and brighten up your garden.

Use the tips in this blog post to help you take care of your plants in the cold months.

Details for Leafy Greens

Did you know that fall is an excellent time to grow leafy greens? Not only do they thrive in the cooler weather, but many varieties also have a sweeter taste when grown in the fall. Plus, they’re packed with nutrients, making them a healthy addition to your meals.

Clean up Orchard and Garden

Cleaning up your garden and orchard is an essential part of maintaining plant health. By removing dead plants, fallen fruits, and other debris, you can help prevent the spread of diseases and pests. This simple step can make a big difference in the health and productivity of your garden and orchard.

What to Add to Garden Soil

After a fruitful summer growing season, your veggie garden’s soil could use a little rejuvenation. Adding organic matter like compost can replenish the nutrients that your summer crops have used up, preparing the soil perfectly for your fall planting. This simple step ensures your fall crops have all the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy.

What to Plant in October for Your Fall Garden or Landscape

Garlic and Shallots

If you’re planning your fall garden, don’t forget to include planting garlic and shallots. These robust, flavorful bulbs are perfect for a fall planting as they require a period of cold weather to properly form bulbs, and they’ll reward you with a bountiful harvest next summer.

Spring Flowering Bulbs

Your spring flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths need a long period of cool temperatures to spark their growth come spring, so tuck them into the earth before winter sets in. Plant these flower bulbs now to enjoy for the springtime in early spring.

10 minutes in October a Few Times a Week

In October, you do not have to be outside each day in your fall garden. There is less to do this month which means you only need 10 minutes to check on your garden every few days and even just once a week.

You have less to worry about once you get your plants protected with plant cloth or plastic for the cold temperatures. If you have a watering system in place or if you hand water your plants, then create a schedule where you don’t need much water, but enough to keep your plants insulated.

You can also plant in October to enjoy flowers and garlic in the spring and summer. Using this month to grow cool season vegetables is a great way to use the October Garden. The cool season crops like greens and root vegetables can keep growing through the wet weather and winter’s cold until next spring. And those who live in warmer climates can grow their October Garden with less need to worry about the cold.

Just remember that you can grow a fall garden no matter where you live and enjoy fresh, organic produce. Use this October Gardening Tips to make your garden grow.

More Information to Help YOU this October:

Fall Freebie Guide:

Know what to do for your fall garden in a few easy steps. GRAB it HERE.


Set up a zoom fall garden consultation to get your garden growing even more quickly with expert help from Alicia DeVore. Check it out HERE.

More Blog Posts:

Find Out How to Grow Fall & Winter Veggies in Containers HERE.

12 Fall Vegetables to Grow

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About the Author

Alicia has been teaching her whole life from elementary teacher to workshops for beginning gardeners.  Go HERE to read Alicia's story into gardening from plant killer to pro grower and garden coach.  If you want to send Alicia a quick message, then use her contact page HERE.

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