Now is the time of month when pumpkins are on the porch.

To keep your pumpkins from rotting before Halloween, keep them dry. Raising them a bit by sitting their round bottoms on top of plastic water bottle caps will keep them fresher longer if you must display them out in the elements.

This is a good week to remove the spider eggs and webbing from under eaves and porch overhangs to keep the helpful spider population outdoors rather than surprising you in the bathtub on a winter morning. (Spiders like to hang out in bathtubs and showers because they are seeking water.) Use a broom to wipe the webs, eggs and adults off the house and then brush them onto tree trunks where they can continue their good deeds (eating bugs) under cover, but not underfoot.

There is no need to use pesticides on spiders.

Q. My question is about fertilizing. You said fall is the time to fertilize the lawn in Western Washington. Should we be fertilizing our roses, perennials and clematis vines as well in the fall? — K.S., Auburn

A. No. Fall is when perennials, vines and roses need to be put on a liquid only diet as you want to encourage these plants to slip into winter dormancy and sleep through the wild winter storms.

Your lawn also will go dormant, but fall and winter lawn foods have a slow release nitrogen that gets washed down to the grass roots where it is waiting for warmer weather when the lawn will wake up early and crowd out the weeds with a rush of green growth. Fertilize the lawn in fall, not your other plants.

Q. When should I prune my roses? They grew to six feet tall this summer. They still are flowering, but some of the lower leaves are yellow. Thank you. — P.S., Yelm

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A. The best time to prune roses is early spring or late winter so February, March and April are good rose pruning months, but if your roses are tall and the winter winds can whip them about, it is a good idea to shorten the tallest stems to about four feet.

In Western Washington, we usually have mild winters and so the perfect pruning date for many plants is flexible. Old gardeners often recommend to simply prune when the shears are sharp.

Q. We grew some great squash this past summer and I need to know how to store acorn squash and other squash over the winter. Should I leave them outdoors? If not, do I store squash in the fridge? What about storing carrots? — T.T., Renton

A. Congrats on your wonderful harvest and October is the time to cut the squash from the vines leaving at least two inches of stem on each squash.

Bring them indoors or out of the weather and store them in a location that stays between 50 and 60 degrees. (Now you know why our grandparents dug root cellars.) Carrots and beets can be left in the ground all winter and dug when you are ready to eat them. Onions, shallots and nuts also should be harvested this month and stored in a cool, dry location.


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