Tofino gardening in October 2006
by Trina Mattson, Tofino
Bravo to Tofino for conserving water, and honestly, with the exception of hanging baskets and pots, most gardens survived with little or no losses. I was sure glad though that August was it's usual foggy self, without it I think we may have been in more trouble, and probably earlier in the season. We'll see next year how badly stressed the larger trees really got. But it does bring to mind that some revamping to the garden will be necessary next season, more drought tolerant plants are definitely on the order sheets.
With the rains finally here and fall starting to set in, there are several chores that will need to be done. October is still a good month to divide and transplant perennials, put in a new lawn or reseed and fertilize an existing lawn, and by the end of the month the Gunnera (giant leaf) plants will need to be cut down and put to bed for the winter, and just before you clean up the tools and lay them to rest for the winter, plant up some spring color with Tulips, Daffodils, and Hyacinths.
Whether you plant bulbs in a pot and put it by the front door or beef up a drab part of the garden, or are just adding extra vavoom to your garden early spring bulbs are never a bad choice, blooming from as early as January and with the different varieties, color, and heights that are now available, from 4" Tulips and Narcissus to the taller 26" there is something to suit everyone's taste, and here we can plant right up to first frost, so pretty much up to Christmas, although by then the selection will be really minimal. Speaking of bulbs and Christmas, don't forget to pot up your indoor forcing bulbs, for Christmas color; they need approx. six weeks at least to show. Last year the Amaryllis were planted in plenty of time for Christmas, but really didn't do their thing until after, and those lucky enough to have had one said they were stunning, huge blossoms. So this year I ordered in the same style bulbs in different colors. Don't forget when you are planting bulbs to give them a good shot of fertilizer, bone meal, bulb food, it really does make a difference in the performance of the bulbs.
Keep the gardens neat and tidy to avoid over wintering pests and disease. Lift any tender bulbs such as Gladiolus, Dahlias and Begonias, clean them up dry them and store them in either dry sand or Vermiculite. I find that because we are so moist over the winter, that peat moss really doesn't work that well, as it has a tendency to wick moisture from the air, and other than Begonias, only have marginal success bring back Dahlias etc.
Winterize your pond, clean up any debris, lift and divide plants, and put the more tender plants deeper in the water, at month end, and a drop in temperature to lower than 10 degrees, you can stop feeding the fish.
The end of October should also see us cleaning up our tools, although keep a rake out for those extra leaves that are always the last to let go, and your pruners, for cutting some winter greens to add to the pots by the front door. Empty out your baskets and pots of annuals, compost them or find a spot in the garden to dig in the dirt, clean out the container and set it aside to dry out over the winter, you could even give it a rinse with a little diluted bleach or detol solution to sterilize against bugs and disease.
Trina Mattson runs the Ordinary Corner Nursery in Tofino at 619 Tibbs Place Road.
Tofino gardening tips for October 2006 from Trina Mattson for Tofino Time Magazine.