Garden Thoughts for October

October 2015 Garden Calendar

1 Build a high tunnel; Dig canna, dahlia, gladiolas & tubular begonia

2 Harvest sweet potatoes

3 Harvest green tomatoes and gourds before frost

4 Last Quarter

5 Divide perennials; Harvest late pumpkins before frost

6 Remove old crop residue and seed winter cover crop

7 Harvest winter squash

8 Store winter squash in cool, dry location

9 Plant multiplier or potato onions; Plant spring bulbs

10 Plant or transplant lilies that flower July 15-Sept. 15

12 New Moon; Columbus Day; Seed spinach for overwintering

13 Turn compost

14 Seed arugula for overwintering

15 Prepare landscape bed for spring planting

16 Plant or transplant deciduous trees and shrubs after leaves drop

17 Save wildflower seeds for spring planting

19 Mow lawn for last time

20 First Quarter; Prune roses and root cuttings

23 Plant garlic

24 Have garden soil tested

26 Fertilize lawn according to soil test

27 Full Moon; Mulch greens (chard, collards, etc.)

31 Halloween

Your Harvest

By Stephen Starcher

WVU Extension Agent

Agriculture & Natural Resources

Hampshire County

Good record keeping is one of the most important gardening tools for determining when to harvest. A thorough garden log should include the species and varieties planted, location in the garden, variety-specific details about mature size and color, method of planting, planting date, germination date, and days to maturity.

Days to maturity, or days to harvest, is given as a range of days from the time a crop is transplanted (or germinated, if directly sown) until the time a crop will be ready to harvest. Remember, this range is highly susceptible to local environmental factors and should be used as a guide.

Different varieties of the same crop can have vastly different characteristics when ready for harvest. These details are generally found on seed packets or available through transplant suppliers. It is important to include these details in your garden log for reference during harvest time.

Many vegetables, such as squash, cucumbers, and green beans, are best picked when young, because the vegetables tend to get tough and seedy as they mature. It is recommended to harvest zucchini that are 6 to 8 inches long and less than 2 inches in diameter.

Most green bean varieties are best when the beans are pencil diameter. Even though some vegetables are best picked when young, others are best when completely ripened on the plant. For example, tomatoes are best when they slip easily from the vines and have softened to the point of yielding to slight pressure from your fingers. Sweet corn is at its peak when the silk has started to dry and you can feel full, round kernels through the husk.

In some cases, the ultimate plan for a crop after it is picked will determine when to harvest. Winter squash, such as butternut and acorn, are edible at any stage. However, if the squash is to be stored for a long period, it is best to let it ripen until the skin is tough enough that it cannot be pierced by a fingernail. Similarly, onions can be eaten as soon as they are large enough to be consumed as green onions; however, if they are intended to be stored, they should not be picked until the tops begin to yellow and fall over.

When in doubt, do a taste test – if it tastes good, harvest! Enjoy your fall gardening and harvest!

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