Garden calendar: For the week of Oct. 28
Vegetables: It is a good time to plant garlic bulbs at the end of October or beginning of November. There are two major categories of garlic varieties: hardneck and softneck. Hardneck varieties have a milder flavor and do better in Wisconsin winters. They are called “hardneck” because the base of the flower stalk, called a scape, hardens after harvest. Softneck varieties have a stronger flavor, and if they do well over the winter, can produce higher yields. They are also better for storage. These are the varieties with stems that can be braided. Many garden centers and catalogs have good selections of both types. Select large, firm heads of cloves and break them up into individual cloves. The bigger the clove, the stronger the resulting plant will be. Plant them about six inches apart and two to three inches deep with the pointy “nose” end facing up. Mulch lightly with straw. Garlic prefers well-drained, rich organic soil; it will not do well in very heavy clay.
Don’t cut back your asparagus until it is brown. Even then, be sure to leave a foot or so of stems and foliage. Research has shown that the stems help protect the crowns over winter. An exception to this rule is if you had rust disease in the foliage — then the foliage should be removed to help prevent spores from overwintering and re-infecting the spears in spring.
Lawns: For the last mowing of the season, cut the grass a little shorter than normal. Generally you want the grass to be 3 ½ -4 inches tall to help keep it healthy and to help shade out weeds. For the last mowing, cut to about 2 ½ inches to provide less food and tunnel space for voles, as well as less material that may be attacked by snow mold in spring if we have heavy snowfall in winter.