Octobers Many Moods
October says goodnight to the growing season. The first killing frost usually happens by mid to late October. Some tough vegetables like carrots, cabbage, lima beans, broccoli and cauliflower can go through a few frosts but most plants are toast after the first hard frost.
October is a seed month. Most perennials have gone to seed and many birds depend on these seeds to get through the winter. Many of gardeners are quick to cut these seed stalks down and add them to the compost bin. Try to keep the seed heads up through the winter. If we get a cold snowy winter seed heads left standing can keep wild birds and mammals alive during the toughest days of winter.
October can be a windy month as summer air battles winter cold fronts. These dividing lines can set up windy, stormy conditions. These storms can drop heavy amounts of rain this time of year and we can use the rain.
October is the start of hunting season. Bird hunters begin their trek through the fields and streams for pheasants and ducks. Bow hunters begin their stalk mid month for deer and turkey. With many of us having free time it appears the woods would be filled with predators patiently waiting for the right game. As hikers and woodland enthusiasts, we need to be aware that we will be sharing the trails, fields and woodlands with sportsman. Dressing in bright colored clothes and sporting bells and bright colored scarves on our pets is a safe approach.
October is the time of the year we need to give some thought to protecting the landscape. Preparing for the hungry deer herd by spraying repellent and considering netting/fencing will be a smart approach to protecting our investment. Mulching the landscapes with a natural mix of bark, leaf mold, chips and compost will help protect roots and help with much needed moisture retention.
October is a leaf month. All deciduous trees and some conifers lose their foliage this time of year. Our area displays some of the brightest foliage on the planet. It starts with the Maples in the swamps and works its way up the ridges. The nut trees are the last with their deep maroon to blood red leaves. Save the leaves that fall and use them as mulch or a soil amendment. I refer to decomposed leaves as “Black Gold”, they are a big ingredient of natures living soil. Do not burn leaves, it creates air pollution and if the wind kicks up can it can fuel forest fires.
October is a good time to plant trees or shrubs in the landscape. Try something new and different this year. A Larch, also known as Tamarack, might be the perfect addition to a blank area in a hedge row or planted in a small grove off in the corner. The Larch is considered a soft pine which means it loses its needles this time of the year but also bears cones. In late October to early November the Larch turns a yellow/gold after all the needles have dropped, it makes for a striking show. It’s a tree that could be as old as the Ginko. It has history. It’s a tough, hard and sappy wood. Native Americans and early settlers used the Larch for boat and building construction. It thrives in an upland situation but will tolerate areas adjacent to swamps. Hungry squirrels and birds will work the seeds out of the cones for food. The Larch is a tree with some unusual characteristics that is worth a try.
Pete & the Natives