Harvest Small Fruits
Harvest the last of the grapes and blueberries, and clean up any fallen apples and pears. Bruised fruit should be used right away. If you have a bumper crop of fruits, cook and freeze or can your bounty while it's still at the peak of perfection. Store apples and pears in a cool, airy place, such as a garage or protected porch. Apples, in particular, will last months with proper storage.
Clean Up the Garden
Regardless of the weather, October is not a month to let things go. Cleaning up under fruit trees and roses is essential. Fallen rotten fruit and diseased leaves are "hotels" for unwanted guests, such as insect larvae and fungal spores. Remove old fruit and foliage now, and you'll have fewer pest problems next spring.
Compost Your Debris
There always seems to be an overabundance of raw garden waste in the autumn months. You can turn this excess into black gold by following these easy steps: Start by running your lawn mower repeatedly through your fallen leaves to shred them into smaller pieces. This will speed up their rate of decomposition. Toss the leaves into a compost bin or mound them up in a corner of the yard. Add equal amounts of green grass clippings to your brown shredded leaves, and finish off your compost pile with a cap of 1 to 2 inches of garden soil, aged compost, or composted manure. Turn the pile every few weeks, and by next planting season you'll have a nice supply of organic mulch.
Keep Out Gophers and Moles
Where burrowing rodents are a problem, don't forget to use wire baskets as you go about your fall planting. If you make your own rodent restraints, use aviary wire or hardware cloth rather than chicken wire. The holes in chicken wire are large enough that gophers and moles can burrow right through.
Avoiding Red Thread
Help your lawn avoid red thread fungal disease by keeping it healthy this fall and winter. Feed the lawn with a 3-1-2 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizer, applying it now before fall rains begin. If you haven't applied lime in the past 2 to 3 years, wait a week after fertilizing and apply it at the rate of about 80 pounds per 1,000 square feet of turfgrass area.