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October is an ideal month to plant cool-season vegetables, herbs and annuals in Southern California’s areas of coastal influence. It’s an uncertain month for planting in inland areas due to possible further heat waves, but efforts to plant during cool-to-warm weather are often rewarded, especially when gardeners are able to monitor carefully and provide extra water and shade during any late heat waves. Regardless of what is on your fall planting list, place these 10 tasks on your gardening to-do list:
Irrigate new garden beds, wait 10 to 21 days prior to planting to flush weed seeds, and remove or till in weed seedlings.
Inspect and repair raised beds, garden structures, fencing, hose bibs, and drip or other irrigation systems. Install drip systems prior to planting.
In new beds or compacted soils, double-dig or loosen soil with a spading fork and remove stones and obstructions shortly before seeding new crops.
Amend soils prior to planting by surface dressing and/or gently working in compost, organic matter, manures, and other amendments.
Add organic amendments such as compost and composted manures to existing perennials, winter-blooming/bearing plants, and actively growing plants. Avoid fertilizing (especially with nitrogen) near perennials or trees that go dormant over winter.
Water trees, shrubs, perennials, and established annuals deeply and slowly between periods of rain. Many plants and trees may need watering only every few weeks to few months during cool weather.
Decrease sprinkler frequency to lawns and small bedding plants. Check city watering guidelines as they often change for fall.
Remove spent or expired vegetable and other plants and clean up organic yard waste to avoid rat harborage and minimize overwintering insect pests and microbial pathogens.
Replenish your compost pile with diseased-free/pest-free fallen leaves and organic yard waste from October cleanup and throughout autumn as plants and trees go dormant.
Refresh mulch to conserve soil water and inhibit weed growth during winter rains.
Inspect exteriors of homes and buildings to locate and repair any gaps or holes large enough for mice/rat entry including vents, eaves, and crawlspace entryways.
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GardenZeus has detailed growing instructions for many vegetables, herbs and annuals ideal for fall planting in Southern California. For ideas see: