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Darrell Blackwelder column: October chores

As our outdoor temperatures fluctuate, homeowners are considering landscape and other outdoor maintenance chores. There are a number of chores home gardeners must do before the abrupt arrival of cold winter weather.

October is bulb month. Plant spring flowing bulbs now. Garden centers have an ample supply which dwindles quickly closer to planting season. Late October/early November is the best time to plant tulips, daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs. Try some of the lesser known bulbs to add interest.

Mark perennials and bulbs. Many home gardeners get busy or forget to mark where perennials are planted. Herbaceous perennials dieback at the first killing frost, becoming invisible during the winter months. Use plastic markers with water-proof markers to mark areas and protect both perennials and bulbs to avoid damage while spring gardening in perennial beds.

Compost leaves. Don’t let leaves lie on grass, especially newly seeded lawns for extended periods. Shade from the leaves reduce growth, making grass turn yellow, especially on newly seeded lawns. Composting eliminates leaves and provides mulch/nutrients to next seasons flowers and shrubs.

Evaluate your landscape. Take time to walk through the landscape and determine what needs to be done for improvement. Make notes and set goals for next season. Be careful not to take on too many tasks at once. Do one task at a time.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu .

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