Western Mountains and High Plains

October, 2012
Regional Report

Plant for Indoor Winter Blooms

Plant spring flowering bulbs in pots and store in a cool, unheated basement or root cellar. Keep the potting mix watered periodically. These bulbs need between six to ten weeks of chilling before they are ready to be forced into winter bloom. Mid to late October is a good time to get bulbs in pots for winter blooms.

Harvest Tender Bulbs

Carefully dig tender bulbs and tubers like gladioli, dahlias, and cannas after the foliage is killed back by frost. Don't remove the entire stem from dahlias, but leave a few inches where buds are compressed. Keep in a cool and dry storage area and check monthly for rot or dryness.

Mulch Root Vegetables

To store carrots, beets, Jerusalem artichokes, and turnips in the garden, mulch heavily before the soil freezes. This allows you to harvest well into the winter. Water root crops well and then apply a thick layer of straw, leaves, or other organic mulch over the crops.

Put Leaves to Use

Recycle fallen leaves, as they are rich in nutrients. Send them through a shredder and turn into the soil to improve soil tilth. As they decay they will release nutrients to the soil where they can be absorbed by plants. Leaves also make good mulch and create a food source for earthworms that enrich the soil with worm castings.

Inspect Returning Plants

Foliage and blooming plants that have spent the summer outdoors need careful inspection before bringing them back inside for the winter. Do a pest check, looking for critters hiding on the stems and leaves, even on the bottom of the pot. Wash down the foliage and stems with a gentle stream of water to dislodge pests. If pests are present, treat infested plants with insecticidal soap .

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