Seasonal Advice for October: Recipes, Gardening, Folklore

Pile of Pumpkins

Pumpkins at a local farm market on a glorious October day.

Cindy Stogsdill

Welcome October! Mark the calendar with Columbus Day, the Canadian Thanksgiving, and Halloween. Learn more—and enjoy our seasonal advice.

With the month of October, autumn moves into full swing.  Who doesn’t love donning a sweater for a walk in the woods, or a stroll through an apple orchard to enjoy the season’s bounty? 

Listen! The wind is rising,
And the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings,
Now for October eves!

Humbert Wolfe (1885-1940)

Calendar: The Meaning of October

October was the name of the eighth month of the year in the ancient Roman calendar. In Latin, octo means eight. When the Romans converted to a 12-month calendar, the name October stuck, even though it’s now the 10th month. 

The early Roman calendar, thought to have been introduced by Rome’s first king, Romulus (around 753 b.c) was a lunar calendar! This ancient timekeeping system contained these 10 months: Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Iunius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October (the eighth month), November, and December. Martius, Maius, Quintilis, and October contained 31 days, while the other months had 30, for a total of 304 days. In winter, the days were not counted for two lunar cycles. It wasn’t until about 713 b.c. that a calendar reform, attributed to the second Roman king, Numa Pompilius, added the months Ianuarius and Februarius. Some historians think that both months were placed at the end of the year, while others believe that Ianuarius became the first month and Februarius the last. Later reforms organized the months as they are arranged today in the Gregorian calendar, whereby October became the 10th month in spite of its name.

Calendar: October Holidays

Here are some of the holidays we mark this month:

  • October 9 is Leif Eriksson Day. Who was Leif Eriksson and why should we care?
  • October 10 is Columbus Day in the U.S., which is always observed on the second Monday in October.  It was on October 12, 1492, that Christopher Columbus landed on a small island in the Bahamas, convinced that he had reached Asia. Who is Columbus? Why do we celebrate this day? Read more about Columbus Day.
  • October 10 also brings Thanksgiving for Canadians. The first Thanksgiving Day in the Canadian Confederation was observed on April 15, 1872. In 1957, a proclamation permanently set the date to the second Monday in October (it was held on different dates in most intervening years). Celebrants give “general thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessings with which [they] have been favored,” eat turkey, and watch football.
  • Wrapping up the month is Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) on the 31st! 

Recipes for the Season

October kicks off the fall baking season for us!

From pumpkin spice cookies to fresh apple crumble bars, we love the flavors of the harvest.

See five fall baking recipes.


October is all about storage. Check our tips on storing vegetables, fruits, and herbs as well as information on root cellars.

If you’re interested in growing pumpkins for next Halloween, see our Pumpkin planting page.

Review our full gardening calendar for a list of what to do in the October garden.

Everyday Advice

Check out these pages for advice and facts about our favorite orange vegetable:
How to Cook and Clean Pumpkins
Dealing with Pumpkin Sprawl (podcast)
History of Carving Halloween Pumpkins (video)



October’s full Moon, the Full Hunter’s Moon, occurs on the 16th, at 12:24 a.m. EDT.



Birth Flowers and Birthstone

October’s birth flowers are the cosmos and the calendula or marigold. Cosmos is a symbol of joy in life and love and of peace. The calendula (aka garden, English, or pot marigold) represents winning grace, grief, or chagrin in the language of flowers. Find out more about October’s birth flowers.

The October birthstone is the opal, which symbolizes faithfulness and confidence. Find out more about October’s birthstone.


  • When deer are in a gray coat in October, expect a hard winter.
  • Much rain in October, much wind in December.
  • A warm October means a cold February.
  • In October dung your field, and your land its wealth shall yield.
  • Good October, a good blast. 
    To blow the hog acorn and mast
    [tree fruit upon which wild animals feed]

Reader Comments

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When is first frost day for

When is first frost day for Dayton ohio? I want to save as many of my vegetable plants in pots as possible by bringing them inside my Sunroom.

When is the signs in the

When is the signs in the HEAD? I want to make saur kraut when the signs are in the head. But can't find a calendar showing the dates with the signs.

Finishing a community

Finishing a community development project...when are the best days to lay
gravel in October. My mother-in-law always told me to lay gravel by the moon. Please help with advice.
Thank you.

Some people traditionally lay

Some people traditionally lay gravel during the light of the Moon, when it is waxing or increasing in light. This is between the new and full phases. So in October, a good time to lay gravel according to this criteria would be Oct 1-8 and 23-31.
Sept. 24 EDT/Sept. 23 PDT = New Moon
October 8 = Full Moon
October 23 = New Moon
November 6 = Full Moon

Halloween video not working.

Halloween video not working. bummer

Just tried it. It worked for

Just tried it. It worked for me.

I live in upstate South

I live in upstate South Carolina. When is best fall dates/days to plant trees?

In the South, you can plant

In the South, you can plant containerized trees all year. But the best time to plant any tree, whether in a container, bare rooted, or balled-and-burlapped, is after it has gone dormant in fall because it is less stressful for the plant. (For deciduous trees, a sign that the plant has gone dormant is when it has lost all of its leaves in autumn.)

I need to have a tooth pulled

I need to have a tooth pulled and I want to know when the sign are below the bowels. Maybe I should say whenthe best time to have it pulled.