Northern & Central Midwest

October, 2001
Regional Report

Feed the Birds

This is the time to pull out your feeders, clean them well and fill with fresh food. Even though there is still abundant natural food, you need to let the birds know you will be providing food through the winter. And don't forget to provide fresh water.

Start a Compost Pile

With abundant leaves and garden debris, this is an excellent time to start a compost pile. Shred raw materials and alternate with layers of good soil or finished compost. Keep the pile fairly moist and site it in a sunny location in order for the sun to help speed up heating.

Plant Hardy Bulbs

Begin planting hardy spring-blooming bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and the myriad of smaller bulbs such as glory-of-the-snow, grape hyacinth, scilla, chionodoxa and cyclamen. Plant bulbs at a depth of about three times the diameter of the bulb. Planting can continue until the ground freezes. Mulch right after planting.

Clean Up Debris

After a killing frost in the flower and vegetable gardens, remove dead plant materials to the compost pile. However, leave seedheads on asters, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, cosmos, marigolds and grasses to feed the birds over winter as well as offer some beautiful winter interest.

Protect Tender Vegetables

Frosts are imminent, so be ready to protect tender plants from light freezes by covering them with sheets or blankets, plastic tarps or cardboard boxes. If a heavy freeze is predicted (25 degrees or less), it will be hard to protect them, so harvest green tomatoes and peppers and let them ripen indoors.

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