6 more things to do in your garden during October

October Garden by Ravenelle

In the last post, TheGardenLady gave a list of 9 things you should do in your garden before the frost of Fall arrives.  Here are 6 more suggestions:

1.  Pull up diseased plants especially tomatoes, squash and potato plants. Do NOT compost these diseased plants. Bag them and toss them out.

2.  Cut back dead perennials where slugs, snails and other pests might hide. But remember to leave some plants for birds and butterflies.

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Mulch and Compost – Use Horse Manure

The Magic Of Horses by Big Grey Mare

Another thing to do to your garden to prevent water loss in the time of drought, is to be sure that all your plants have mulch around their roots. Mulch keeps weeds down and helps retain water. There are many different types of mulch that you can use.

Must be gardeners near by by pollyalida

l use aged horse manure as mulch. I am lucky that I know someone who raises horses, ages their manure at least 6 months and then delivers it to my house. The woman said that her horses, who are retired, earn their keep this way so that she “never has to put them out to pasture” so to speak. The adage to never use fresh horse manure on your plants or you can burn them is said with a caveat. I have heard that a thin layer will not burn. But I have never tried it because I would think that even if it didn’t burn, the fresh manure would stink.

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Pine Needle Mulch

Pine needles for blueberry mulch by greenwalksblog (on flickr)
Pine needles for blueberry mulch by greenwalksblog (on flickr)

TheGardenLady received this question from June.

Would potatoes like a pine needle mulch?

According to Clemson University Extension, pine needle mulch is good
for potatoes.   See here.

Tip: Pine needles and coffee grounds make great mulch for acid-loving
plants, such as rhododendrons, azaleas, blueberries, raspberries,
strawberries and potatoes.

Please let TheGardenLady know how you make out with pine needle mulch.

WARNING: Cocoa Mulch is Bad for Pets

TheGardenLady knows that eager gardeners want to start putting mulch down in their gardens. This GardenLady uses aged horse manure that a local horse farmer delivers.

Today I received this frightening warning about a relatively new mulch called Cocoa Mulch that is being sold in some major stores. I am passing on the warning to my readers exactly as I received it. Please read the column and let family and friends know about the problem with using this mulch. Even if you don’t have your own pets, neighbors may have dogs and cats that walk where you have mulch. No one would want any pet to suffer because of this product.

Over the weekend the doting owner of two young lab mixes purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in their garden. They loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away from their garden. Their dog Calypso decided that the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times which was typical when she eats something new but wasn’t acting lethargic in any way. The next day, Mom woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk . Half way through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly.

Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company’s website, this product is HIGHLY toxic to dogs and cats.

Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey’s, and they claim that ‘It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won’t eat it.’

This Snopes site gives the following information: Cocoa Mulch, which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman’s Garden Supply and other Garden supply stores, contains a lethal ingredient called ‘Theobromine’. It is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks.  Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker’s chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.