In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
October, 2012
Regional Report

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Even late-maturing garlic heads that have sprouted can be separated into cloves and planted now.

Fall Garden Work

This month's weather makes heavy work almost enjoyable, and there's lots to do out in the garden.

Annuals and Perennials
Most perennials and some annuals can be transplanted or divided and replanted. These include acanthus, agapanthus, Japanese anemone, astilbe, bergenia, bleeding heart (dicentra), calendula, evergreen candytuft, columbine, coralbells (huechera), coreopsis, Michaelmas and Shasta daisies, daylily, delphinium, dianthus (carnation, pinks, sweet William), dusty miller, foxglove, heliopsis, hellebore (Christmas rose, Lenten rose), hollyhock, bearded iris, peony, phlox, Oriental poppy, primrose, rudbeckia (gloriosa daisy, coneflower, echinacea, monarch daisy, black-eyed-Susan), statice, stock, stokesia, veronica, and yarrow.

Cool-Season Vegetables
Sow fava beans, celery, chard, chives, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce (especially romaine types and small-heading bibb and buttercrunch types, which overwinter well with minimal damage from light frosts), green and long-day bulb onions (which will mature during the lengthening days of next spring and early summer), parsley, peas, radishes, spinach (especially savoy types for more frost resistance), and shallots.

Sowing bulb onion seed now will result in larger bulbs that will bolt less in early spring than store-bought sets, which are often stored improperly (mostly too warm for too long) while on display. Also transplant artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, established herbs (especially comfrey, sage, thyme), and rhubarb. All these will mature before the first hard frost and can be overwintered with only minor damage to varieties with more delicate foliage.

Just about any broccoli variety will do well in our area. Try "sprouting" kinds for lots of small heads. For brilliant chartreuse, pointed heads that taste milder than regular broccoli, try Romanesco, a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.

Garlic planted now will develop a strong root system over the winter, and leaf production can begin early in the spring, resulting in a large head next summer. So the sooner you plant cloves now in rich, well-drained soil, the larger the bulbs will be at harvest. Planting in the spring, even with rich soil, will produce only bulbs with medium- or small-sized cloves, or a single bulb without cloves. (These small bulbs can be used in place of a single large clove in recipes. They can also be left in the soil or stored and replanted the following fall, when they'll develop further and then mature into bulbs with separate cloves.) For the largest-sized garlic, plant cloves four to six inches apart now in a raised planting bed that is well-drained and compost-enriched, and keep the soil moist through next June. Immature cloves that develop late may still have green leaves. These sprouted cloves can be separated and planted individually now.

Locate new 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 one 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.

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