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October Gardening Tips

What You Should Plant ... and When:
Starting Your Vegetable Garden: Fruits And
Veggies More Matters.org

Vegetable Garden: what you should be doing in October: Fruits and Veggies More Matters.org 

Harvest
Beans, Broccoli and Cauliflower planted in May/June
(NE, upper parts of SE, EC, UC)

Harvesting Tips

Beans 
The three most common types of beans planted in a home garden are green, yellow (or wax), and lima beans.

      Green Beans
      Harvest beans when they are 3-5 inches in length and are a light grass to dark green (color will vary depending on the variety planted). With one hand, hold the bean plant right above a bean that is ready to be harvested and with the other hand gently pull or ‘pick’ the bean from the plant. It’s okay if a little bit of the stem remains attached to the bean.
      Video: Using Green Beans

      Yellow (Wax) Beans
      Harvest beans when they are 3-5 inches in length and are yellow/green to sunshine yellow (color will vary depending on the variety planted). With one hand, hold the bean plant right above a bean that is ready to be harvested and with the other hand gently pull or ‘pick’ the bean from the plant. It’s okay if a little bit of the stem remains attached to the bean.

      Lima Beans
      The beans grow inside of pods, similar to peas. Harvest when the pod is 3-4 inches in length and 1-1 1/2” wide. Place the pod between your thumb and forefinger and gently apply pressure until the pod ‘pops’ open. Remove the beans and discard the pod. Approximately 2-4 beans will be in each pod. The color of the pod will be a light grass green.

Broccoli
Harvest broccoli when the head is 7-12 inches in diameter, firm or hard to the touch, and the flowerets are varying shades of green/gray. Gently grip the sides of the head with your fingers and using a kitchen pairing knife, cut the stem, leaving 4-6 inches attached to the head of the broccoli. You will likely get 1-2 additional cuttings from the same plant before it dies. If you see small yellow flowers on the plant or anywhere on the head of the broccoli, it’s over-ripe and should be placed on the compost pile, thrown away or left in the yard for animal friends to eat. It’s best to harvest broccoli as needed. Video: Selecting Broccoli

Cauliflower
Harvest cauliflower when the head is 7-12 inches in diameter, firm or hard to the touch, and the flowerets are white or light cream. Gently grip the sides of the head with your fingers, and using a kitchen pairing knife, cut the stem, leaving no more than two (2) inches attached to the head of the cauliflower. You will likely get 1-2 additional cuttings from the same plant before it dies. It’s best to harvest cauliflower as needed. Video: How to Cut Cauliflower

Potatoes
This is a fun activity to do with your children. Dig a trench, 18″-24″ deep and 4′-5′ long. You can purchase cut potatoes from your local home and garden center or favorite seed catalog, or you can cut potatoes purchased from your local supermarket or farmers market. Cut 1/4″ – 1/3″ from the tip of the potato, ensuring at least a handful of eyes are present on the cut portion. Place the cut portion in the trench, water, and cover with soil. Over the winter months, the potato will grow into a full-size potato, ready for harvest in March/April of the following year.

Turn the Soil

A good tool for this job is a cultivator or a hoe which can be purchased from your local home and garden store. A rototiller can also be used to turn the soil. They can be rented from your local rental equipment store, but due to the cost it’s not recommended unless you have a very large home garden. The goal of turning the soil is to move the bottom layers of soil to the top and vice versa. This process allows the soil nutrients to be widely dispersed, and tiny air pockets to form beneath the ground level of the soil, which will help to keep the soil healthy during the cooler months.

Fertilize
This step is not completely necessary, but a good one if you are able to complete. Any organic or chemical fertilizer will work, although I have experienced the best results with compost, animal manure (your local farmer will be happy to give you some, likely for free), or mushroom soil. Fertilizing the soil will help to build-up a reserve of nutrients needed for the long winter.

Weed
Remove any remaining weeds, dead plants, stakes or cages.

Preparing Strawberry Plants for Cooler Months
Strawberry plants are very susceptible to cold temperatures and need to be protected over the winter. The best tool for this job is straw which can be purchased from your local farmer or home and garden store. One bale of straw should be sufficient to cover most average-sized strawberry patches (it will come banded together with twine). Place the bale close to the strawberry patch and cut the twine (it should be in ‘sections’ making it easy to work with). Remove a section of straw and hold at the top with both hands. Working in small areas at a time, gently pull the straw section apart so you have a smaller section in each hand. Move your hands and the straw will start to fall on top of the strawberries. The end goal is to ensure all strawberry plants are covered with straw, as well as the ground underneath the plants. Place the straw over the plants until about one (1) inch of straw covers the plants. Keep the straw on the strawberries until spring.

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