Just when your summer garden’s best days are behind it, October comes along and a new planting season begins in southern California.Cooler Weather Means Less Stress on New Plants: While Santa Ana winds can still bring hot spells in October, average temperatures are generally mild–in the high 70s. The soil is warm so it is perfect for developing new root systems. Less daylight hours means less water evaporation so less watering. And who knows? It may even rain in October.Prepare The Soil For Your Fall Garden: Remove any remaining summer vegetables that have stopped producing and weeds that may be sprouting. Turn over the soil, being careful not to dig too deep. Add organic soil amendments to give your fall garden a fresh start. Make sure you select the soil amendment that’s right for your soil. Soil tends to be clay (slow draining) or sandy (quick to erode). Amendments can provide the proper balance.Plan Your Fall Garden: Buy and plant six packs of seasonal vegetables including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, peas, spinach, Brussels sprouts, lettuce and rutabaga.Add Trees, Shrubs And Groundcover: Just about all types of trees, shrubs and groundcovers do best when planted in fall. The exception is citrus trees. Ice plant does well as a groundcover on hillsides and does not require much water. Lantana is another drought-tolerant groundcover with almost year-round flowers that come in a variety of colors. Other groundcover to plant now include verbena, purple sage and mountain lilac.Keep Critters Away: Rabbits, ground squirrels, gophers, opossum and raccoons are just some of the animals that can feast on fall vegetables. Keeping these animals away from gardens is just as important in fall as it is in summer. Depending on the vegetable plant, consider lining your garden bed bottoms and sides with rust-resistant chicken wire or hardware cloth to keep gophers from digging up roots. Rabbits love broccoli and leafy greens. Surround your garden with chicken wire or other barrier high enough so rabbits and other animals can’t enter.Revitalize Lawns: If you are still watering your lawn, it might as well look good. October is the time of the year for lawn repair. If your lawn suffers from patches of crabgrass, remove the area and seed with a lawn seed that matches your lawn. Consider changing over to more drought tolerant grass such as Bermuda, St. Augustine and zoysia. When planting from seed, use topper mix to help keep the seeds moist and at their optimum for growing.Plant Cool Weather Flowers: Flowers that do particularly well in fall include sweet peas, pansies, violas, primrose, calendula, chrysanthemums, cineraria, dianthus, delphiniums, Iceland poppies, nemesia, snapdragon and wild flowers. Wildflowers that thrive in southern California and can be planted now are California poppies, larkspur, linaria and gypsophila.
Bill Camarillo is CEO of Agromin, an Oxnard, California-based manufacturer of soil products and the composter for cities throughout Southern California. Each month, Agromin receives more than 30,000 tons of organic material and then uses a safe, natural and sustainable process to transform the material into premium soil products. The results are more vigorous and healthier plants and gardens, and on the conservation side, the opportunity to close the recycling loop, allow more room in landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. http://www.agromin.com, https://www.facebook.com/agromin/