Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith submitted the following:
My 2008 Iowa State University Extension Service Garden Calendar—a plethora of recommendations and advice each month –suggests an October visit to a pumpkin patch for the perfect Jack-O-Lantern candidate. My favorite daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter have enjoyed this family tradition for several years. Now 7-year-old Catie has managed a larger specimen every year. This year, 2-year-old Charlie will say “Me Too, Mommy” as he stubbornly grapples with as much pumpkin as he can manage to drag out of the patch. Girly-girl Catie enjoys decorating, but not cleaning out the “innards”. I’d bet my All-Boy Charlie will love every minute of the mess! No kids at home? No Grandkids around? Go ahead! Be a kid again, go visit a Pumpkin farm soon.
Other suggestions from the calendar for October are:
Continue to mow the lawn until the grass stops growing
Apply fertilizer to the lawn, but not to perennials or trees
Compost fall leaves
Plant spring flowering bulbs.
On that last note, here are some recommendations for brightening your days next spring: Bulbs are usually inexpensive.
Follow the directions on the packages.
Plant in mass: four large and nine small bulbs per square foot. The smaller the bulb, the larger the grouping should be.
Generally, bulbs should be planted at a depth of two to three times the height of the bulb.
Place the bulb “tip” side up (that’s not the root side). If in doubt, place the bulb on its side!
Plant in well draining soil.
Chicken wire placed under, around and on top of bulbs deter rodents.
Water the area thoroughly and apply about 2” of mulch after the first frost.
Apply fertilizer three times per year: in the fall for the roots, in the spring when the sprouts first poke through and then when the flower dies.
Deer tend to avoid daffodils, alliums, and snowdrops.
Tulips and crocus seem to be the bulbs-of-choice.
So, after you’ve been to the pumpkin patch, go visit your favorite garden shop and get to planting.