In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
September, 2008
Regional Report

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Crowded bearded iris that no longer bloom prolifically should be thinned and transplanted now.

Starting the Fall and Winter Garden

It's planting time for the next season of good eating and beautiful flowers. The cooler temperatures make this a welcome time to be outside working in the garden.

Edibles
The shorter days require us to sow or transplant two or three times the amount of edible plants we would for spring harvest. These overwintering crops will grow very slowly, and each week will only yield a couple of lettuce leaves from each plant, and small broccoli heads from each plant.

As some herbs reseed themselves, transplant the seedlings for overwintering either into the garden or indoors. Dill, especially, seems to germinate better this way, so take advantage of it.

Keep seedbeds moist and shaded from hot afternoon sun until the seedlings develop two to four true leaves. After transplanting them, mulch the soil lightly, and add more in October and November for additional frost protection. Keep the mulch an inch away from the plant stems, however, for good air circulation and to reduce the potential for disease problems.

Landscape Plants
Transplant perennials, ground covers, shrubs, and vines while the soil and air temperatures are still warm to give them a full season's root development over those planted in the spring. Set them out in the cooler late afternoons or evenings, and water them in with a mild solution of a balanced fertilizer to promote new root growth and reduce transplant shock. Mulch and shade them lightly for the first week. Add more mulch in October and November for additional frost protection.

Root cuttings of semiwoody plants, including fuchsias, geraniums, hydrangeas, ivies, and marguerite daisies. Remove all but the top four leaves, and bury at least two nodes (but preferably four or five) on the stem in damp sand or a peat moss-and-perlite mix. They should be ready to transplant in two months.

Plant iris rhizomes, daylily crowns, and lily bulbs in well-drained soil amended with organic matter. Iris prefer to sit on top of the soil, with only their roots buried. Daylilies like to be 1 inch below the soil surface. Lilies need a 3-inch layer of humus on top of their roots. Iris can take all the sun they can get, daylilies will bloom nicely in full sun or partial shade, and lilies need their bases shaded but foliage in the sun. Plant lily bulbs as soon as you get them, as they don't ever go fully dormant.

Trim bearded iris foliage fans to about 8 inches from the rhizome. Plant new iris and divide others if they have less than an inch of soil space between them or if they didn't bloom well last spring. Discard the old, leafless center sections, trim the roots of the newer ones to 2 inches in length, and plant them just below the soil surface. Don't fertilize them but water them in well after planting and every other week until the rains take over.

Buy bulbs to plant for spring bloom. Choose big, plump bulbs, which have the most stored food and will produce the largest and most numerous blooms over the longest period of time. They cost a bit more, but they'll provide a great deal more pleasure when they bloom. Refrigerate hyacinths and tulips for six to eight weeks before planting them in November.


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