October’s crisp, cool mornings remind us that frosty mornings are not far away. We will have a month of change in the garden.

Fall in Middle Tennessee brings beautiful foliage, harvests (especially apples and pumpkins), hayrides and corn mazes. Fall also brings the opportunity to add cool season veggies to our gardens. Be sure to check out local merchants to see what they have at this time.

Veggie transplants are easy to grow in containers, just make sure the containers have proper drainage and are large enough for the plants to grow. One of the best things about container gardening is the containers can be moved around if needed.

Dickson residents are fortunate to have city public works employees collect piles of leaves when they are placed appropriately near the street. They recycle the leaves and prevent air pollution (leaf burning) at the same time. Leaf pickup begins Nov. 1 and continues until April 15.

Another way to recycle all those leaves is to add them to compost bins, piles or the soil. Compost bins/piles require a lot of carbon/brown in relation to nitrogen/green, and we often see different numbers regarding this — anywhere between 25-30 parts carbon to one part nitrogen. Just remember to have lots of carbon/brown available if you compost.

Also, the forests survive by using the many nutrients supplied by their fallen, then composted, leaves. Forests compost the old-fashioned way – “slow composting.” Trees have intricate root systems with the ability to mine nutrients from the earth which end up in their leaves. Leaves are valuable. Dried leaves are a carbon/brown source for the compost pile.

At times when adequate vegetable scraps and other green sources are not enough to add to the leaves, a thin layer of alfalfa meal or pellets can be used as a nitrogen/green source. After chopped leaves have composted for several months, they will turn into crumbly humus that’s ready to feed whatever soil is lucky enough to receive it. We call good quality, finished compost “Gardeners gold”. Many plants appreciate compost being used as their mulch.

For those who place houseplants outside for the summer, it’s time to be preparing them to go back inside. It’s a good time to make sure both plant and pot are healthy. Insecticidal soap or Neem oil can be used to prevent taking insects inside. Check inside the pot; sometimes good critters, such as toads and lizards hang out there.

October is a good month to plant garlic, peonies, bulbs for spring-blooms, and pansies/violas for three seasons of color.

October is also a time to locate and preserve the best fresh apples, winter squash, pumpkins and sweet potatoes.

Hummingbirds are still visiting my Penta, Salvia, and Torenia plants every day. Torenia fournieri (wishbone flower) is not usually found at big box stores, but we find it locally, every spring, at Country Gardens Greenhouse in Vanleer. Torenia is a good container plant and does well in hanging baskets.

Keeping the plants deadheaded will keep blooms coming until frost. Hummingbirds will love you.

Happy gardening.

Gardening Partners is a non-profit founded in 2003 to serve Dickson County with gardening education and advice. Readers may submit gardening questions by email: gpdc471@gmail.com, on the website: www.gardening.partners, or by mail: PO Box 471 Dickson TN 37056

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