If you’ve got pumpkins on the porch and don’t want to worry about them rotting, keep them dry.
Raising them just a bit by sitting their round bottoms atop plastic water bottle caps will keep them fresh longer if you must display them out in the elements.
This is also a good week to remove the spider eggs and webbing from under eaves and porch overhangs. This will keep the helpful spider population outdoors rather than surprising you in the bathtub on a winter morning. (Spiders like to hang out in bathtubs and showers because they’re seeking water.)
Use a broom to wipe the webs, eggs and adults off the house and then brush them onto tree trunks where they can continue their good deeds (eating bugs) under cover but not underfoot. There is no need to use pesticides on spiders.
Q. My question is about fertilizing.
You said fall is the time to fertilize the lawn in Western Washington. Should we be fertilizing our roses, perennials and clematis vines as well in the fall? K.S., Auburn
A. No. Fall is when perennials, vines and roses need to be put on a liquid-only diet as you want to encourage them to slip into winter dormancy and sleep through the wild winter storms.
Your lawn will go dormant as well, but fall and winter lawn foods have a slow-release nitrogen that gets washed to the grass roots, where it will wait for warmer weather when the lawn wakes up early and crowds out the weeds with a rush of green growth.
Fertilize the lawn in fall, not your other plants.
Q. When should I prune my roses?
They grew to six feet tall this summer. They are still flowering but some of the lower leaves are yellow. Thank you. P.S., Yelm
A. The best time to prune roses is early spring or late winter so February, March and April are good rose-pruning months.
But if your roses are tall and the winter winds can whip them about, it’s a good idea to shorten the tallest stems to about four feet.
In Western Washington, we usually have mild winters, so the perfect pruning date for many plants is flexible. Old gardeners often recommend to prune when the shears are sharp.
Q. We grew some great squash this past summer and I need to know how to store acorn squash and other squash over the winter.
Should I leave them outdoors? If not, do I store squash in the frig? What about storing carrots? T.T., Renton
A. First, congrats on your wonderful harvest. Second, October is the time to cut squash from the vines, leaving at least two inches of stem on each of the fruits.
Bring them indoors or out of the weather and store them in a location that stays between 50 and 60 degrees. (Now you know why our grandparents dug root cellars.)
Carrots and beets can be left in the ground all winter and dug when you are ready to eat them. Onions, shallots and nuts should be harvested this month and stored in a cool, dry location.