Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

October, 2003
Regional Report

Sow Wildflowers

This is the ideal time to plant wildflowers from seed. Clear the ground of weeds before sowing seed to avoid competition. Scratch the surface of the soil so the tiny roots can get a foothold after they germinate. After preparing the soil, scatter seeds over the surface, then just barely cover with fresh potting soil. Water gently to settle the seeds in place. Once winter rains begin, stop watering. Poppies and lupines are two varieties that do very well in our climate.

Clean Garden Beds

Pull up and compost spent summer annual and vegetable plants. Rake up and compost fallen leaves and debris from under shrubs and trees. By keeping the soil clean, you can eliminate many fungus diseases. For faster composting, chop debris into small pieces.

Dig and Store Dahlia Tubers

It is not absolutely necessary to dig up your dahlia tubers for the winter if you have exceptionally well-drained soil, but it\'s not a bad idea. Be very careful not to damage the tubers while digging them out of the ground, and don\'t divide the clumps or remove any foliage or stems. Wash off the excess soil, and allow the tubers to dry overnight. Then wrap them in damp moss and place them in a perforated plastic bag. Dahlia tubers should never dry out completely. Store them in a cool, well-ventilated area.

Continue Irrigating

Continue watering trees, shrubs, lawns, flower beds, and winter vegetable gardens until winter rains begin in earnest. Although plants use less water now than earlier in the season, provide enough water so the plants don\'t get water stressed. Weakened plants are more susceptible to insect attack.

Keep Camellias Tidy

Keep the fallen flowers raked up from under sasanqua and japonica camellia plants. If fallen flowers are allowed to stay on the ground, the plants can develop a fungus disease called blossom blight. Blossom blight is identified as unsightly brown edges on the delicate flowers while they are still on the shrub. Also, buds may drop without ever opening. Good grooming is the key to success with camellias.

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