Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Change to Fall Watering Schedule
The days are shorter and plants are getting ready for winter. Unless your garden consists of tropicals, cut back on water now. Reset automatic irrigation clocks so the frequency and duration of water is reduced by one third.
Cut Back Impatiens
You can get one more bloom time from your impatiens by cutting them back now. Use hedge shears to cut back plants to about 3 to 5 inches so there are a few leaves left above ground to support the roots while the plants are becoming reestablished. Fertilize with 0-10-10 after pruning.
Plant Winter Vegetables
Cabbage, broccoli, peas, cilantro, and lettuce can go into the ground now that the days are getting shorter. Cover new plantings with floating row covers to protect them from end-of-summer heat until seedlings are established.
Caring for Indoor Plants
Tropical indoor plants will soon go into their dormant period. Plants native to tropical areas go without rain from November to May. Cut back water and increase humidity to mimic native conditions. Keep leaves clean by frequent dusting and watch for invasions of insect pests throughout the winter months. No fertilizer until early spring, please.
Prune for Fire Prevention
Native grasses are dry, dry, dry until winter rains begin. Keep overhanging branches trimmed away from roof lines, move firewood and other tinder materials away from buildings, and keep perimeter grasses mowed to act as a fire break if you live in a rural area or heavily wooded neighborhoods.
Dry conditions in the hills mean that raccoons, deer, skunks, and wild pigs will be moving down in search of water. Be kind to these creatures, but keep pet food indoors to prevent unwanted nocturnal visits.