Harvest Winter Squash
Pumpkins and squash are ready for harvest when the color is well developed and the rind cannot be easily penetrated with your thumbnail. Cut the squash from the vine, leaving a 3-inch piece of stem attached to the fruit. Brush away excess dirt and store in a cool, dry place.
Transplant Rhizomes and Store Corms
This is a good time to transplant bearded iris and daylilies. It's also the time to dig up gladiolus corms. By now your glad foliage should be turning brown. Dig up the corms with the foliage intact. Let them dry in a shady place for several days, then remove the foliage. Store the corms in a cool, dry place where they will not freeze.
Brighten Up Beds with Mums
Chrysanthemums are a mainstay for color in the fall garden. Buy plants with unopened flower buds. Mums in full bloom may not produce additional flowers this fall. Plant in a sunny to partly sunny location and keep well watered. Deadhead regularly, and when all of the flowers have faded cut the plant back about a third. If the weather is mild you may get a few more flowers. Cut them back almost to the ground in late January and they will bloom again for you next year in the fall. Or pull up the plants and put them in the compost if they were planted for temporary color.
Have Your Soil Tested
Fall is an excellent time for taking soil samples in your lawn and garden. Soil tests measure the acidity or alkalinity of the soil and the levels of some of the major elements required for plant growth, such as phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. If lime is needed, now is a good time to apply it.
Prepare Beds for Spring
October is the month to begin cleaning up your garden for next spring. If you had some problems with diseases and insects during the summer, it might be a good idea to compost or bury the debris you collect to keep problems from continuing into next year's garden. If you didn't have pest problems, work the dead plants into a compost pile where they will decompose and supply much needed organic matter for your soil next year.