Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
October, 2009
Regional Report

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Use the baby strawberry plants for new beds.

The Calm After Our Last (?) Blistering Heat

After that blistering heat of late September, we begin to notice that the garden is growing slower this month. After hot and frantic summer harvests and preserving, we, too, can be calmer in our garden activities. We concentrate on keeping summer stragglers producing through frost, starting plants from seed, nurturing seedlings just transplanted, and beginning to harvest cool-season crops. Clean up includes adding plant debris to the compost pile and storing pots and lumber and other leftovers away from the garden. The pleasantly cool weather is refreshing to work in after summer's heat.

Change Irrigation Frequency, Not Length of Time
Help overwintering plants harden off by changing your irrigation schedule. Cooler weather slows evaporation from the soil and transpiration from plant foliage, so irrigation is needed less often. So, decrease the number of times -- but not the length of time -- you water. For example, water once every three weeks instead of once a week, but still water for half an hour each time. This change will still provide water to deep roots while allowing for longer periods for the soil to dry in between waterings, and it doesn't encourage new, frost-tender growth.

Renovate strawberry beds away from where potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers have grown within the last three years. Incorporate rock fertilizers, compost, and cottonseed meal. Water well. After two to four weeks, transplant strawberries 1 foot apart so the crown is just above the soil level. Strong roots will develop over the winter, and spring warmth will encourage fast growth and large berries.

This month's weather makes heavy work almost enjoyable. Most perennials and some annuals can be transplanted or divided and replanted. These include acanthus, agapanthus, Japanese anemone, astilbe, bergenia, bleeding hearts (dicentra), calendulas, evergreen candytuft, columbine, coralbells (huechera), coreopsis, michaelmas and Shasta daisies, daylilies, delphiniums, dianthus (carnation, pinks, sweet William), dusty miller, foxgloves, heliopsis, helleborus (Christmas rose, Lenten rose), hollyhocks, bearded irises, peonies, phlox, Oriental poppies, primroses, rudbeckias (gloriosa daisy, coneflower, echinacea, monarch daisy, black-eyed-Susan), statice, stock, stokesia, veronica, and yarrow.

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