October is a transition month when most of us move from summer weather to fall weather. The days get shorter and the first frost usually occurs. Last winter was a bonus for gardeners but the chance of that happening again is small so enjoy your garden while you can. Be prepared to bring tender plants back indoors and to throw a cloth over lettuce and carrots when early frosts occur - typically, after the first few nights of light frost, the weather changes back to milder temperatures and we get an extra week or so of harvest time.
Late fall flowers and berries are the stars of my garden along with some late planted beans. In the flower garden self-seeding annuals like cosmos and cleome are still blooming and the pink colors make a welcome change from the oranges and reds of fall. Each year a few cosmos and cleome reseed and come back up next year. I add a few extra seeds though and try new varieties of these easy to grow flowers, each year.

Cosmos: Seashells Mix

Cleome: Queen Mix

In the vegetable garden the peppers are still doing well and will continue until the first frost. I was away at a garden conference and left the garden for a full week and came back to the wonderful color of Pinot Noir pepper that was just green when I left. This looks great in salads or mixed in with the other vegetables. The second planting of beans are also producing. The scarlet red beans are slightly different to the typical round green beans and they do better in slightly cooler end-of-summer temperatures. They are a magnet for bees and humming birds.

Pinot Noir Sweet Pepper

Late Scarlet Runner bean

The first frost though will arrive for most of us in October so the tender plants need to be brought indoors for the winter. Most people like to bring rosemary indoors although it doesn’t always survive indoors either and sometimes it saves energy to just accept that rosemary is an annual for you. I have better luck with the lovely winter cacti and have several that sit outdoors each summer. They are brought indoors when the daytime temperatures drop to below 75 and they do not like overnight temperatures below 50 degrees so early October is a good time to bring them indoors. Put them in some shade outside for a few days to get the plants used to lower light conditions before you transition them to indoors for the winter. The shorter day length and cooler night temperatures promotes the right conditions for the blooms to set. Most years my cacti start blooming in early November and continue for the whole holiday season.

Winter Cactus in the summer

Winter Cactus last November