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October gardening

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October is the time to clean up your garden and put it to bed for the winter.

Some tips courtesy of the Becker County Master gardeners include

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• Tackle garden clean-up chores before cold, wet weather makes them more difficult. Pull frost-damaged annuals and vegetables, cut back damaged perennials, empty large containers and bring them into the basement or garage where they won't freeze and crack.

• Leave a couple inches of stem attached when you pick pumpkins. Since they have almost no frost tolerance, they must be harvested or protected if frost is forecast.

Pumpkins ripen best on the vine, but may turn orange in storage if not completely ripe when picked. Wipe them clean with a damp, slightly soapy cloth, then put them in a warm sunny spot for a week or two to cure them. Store in a cool dark place.

• Continue to mow the lawn as needed, and rake fallen leaves so grass doesn't mat down and encourage snow mold development.

Or, if the leaves aren't too deep, run a power mower over them several times. This chips them into little pieces that filter harmlessly through the grass into the soil, recycling a small amount of nutrients as they break down. Otherwise, use the leaves to protect bulbs and flowering perennials, or compost them.

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