Use fallen leaves to protect beds against compaction from winter rain. Shred or use a lawn mower to chop leaves. Remove before growing season and add to compost heap or bin.
Kitchen Garden and Orchard
Vegetable beds can still be planted with cover crops that will nourish your soil and prevent soil compaction from winter rains. For a spring garden plot, vetch is a non-food plant that is removed or turned under in the spring about two weeks before planting. For a summer garden area, fava beans will bear a food crop if winter temperatures don't fall below 20 degrees. Favas are broad-shell beans that mature in early May for fresh eating, just in time for you to get your tomato plot ready!
Watch night temperatures. The Rogue Valley has had early frosts for the past two years. Protect with a season-extending cloche or even a light blanket. The emergency blankets kept in cars work well, but remove them during the day.
Plant garlic and shallots. Prepare your spring pea bed now, so you can plant as early as February.
Store seeds from your summer annuals by harvesting dry seeds and placing them in a jar with a powdered-milk sachet to prevent molding. Make the sachet by putting a teaspoon of powdered milk in an untreated paper tissue and closing with string or tape. Seeds will keep for one year.
The latest thinking in winter garden clean-up is to allow some plants to remain for beneficial insects to overwinter. Leave some flower and grass-seed heads standing to provide shelter and food for birds.
Mums may overwinter better if you leave last year's growth on the plant till spring. It protects the crown from frost.
Don't just assume you need to add lime to the lawn; do the pH test. If the soil is acidic (under 6.0), then add lime as directed so winter rains can incorporate it. Too much lime (creating alkaline soil, pH over 7.0) is not good for grass.
Get savvy about your environmental impact. Attend Ashland's Green and Solar Tour this year. It runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, starting at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main St. It costs only $10 to learn to decrease use (and cost) of energy and to see chic green products. Register online at http://ashlandparks.recware.com.
George Tiger can teach you to successfully grow and harvest your own berry crop at this onth's Jackson County Master Gardener class. Learn to find, select and fertilize your plants, including the best varieties for the Rogue Valley. Class is at the OSU Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road, Central Point. Cost is $5. Time: 7 to 9 p.m., Oct. 13. Call 541-776-7371.
Wisteria is a notorious consumer of trellises, porches and eaves. Join Master gardener Patrick Marcus to learn how to turn your tangled wisteria into a monster bloomer. Fee is $10. Time: 7 to 8:30 p.m., Oct. 7, at North Mountain Park Nature Center, 620 N Mountain Ave., Ashland. Register online at http://ashlandparks.recware.com or call 541-488-6606.
The Siskiyou Koi & Pond Club meets at the Central Point Senior Center, 123 N. 2nd St., Central Point, at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 12. The club is hosting a contest of the best koi or water lily, as shown in a photo. Call 541-779-3644 or 541-245-9357 for more information.
Ethnobotanist Don Todt will talk to the Medford Garden Club about local plants used by American Indians and early settlers at their 1 p.m. meeting on Oct. 16. Call 541-774-3930 for information and location.
To learn more about permaculture, join the Siskiyou Permaculture Resources Group. They'll hold an Ashland potluck and meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15. Call 541-488-8777 for information and location.