Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Dig and Divide
Dig up and divide large clumps of perennial plants. Lily of the Nile, Peruvian lilies, lion's tail, sea foam statice, and Shasta daisies are just a few perennial plants that benefit from an occasional division. Dividing large clumps rejuvenates plants and also increases your stock. Dig the plant from the soil, then use a shovel or spading fork to separate individual plants from the main clump. Add organic compost to the planting hole, then return the divisions to the site. Water after dividing and add no fertilizer until you see new growth.
Hungry squirrels can do serious damage to annual flower beds as they bury their collected fall harvest of nuts. To protect young plants from damage, sprinkle ground chili peppers over the surface of the soil. The squirrels don't like the "hot foot" sensation and will search elsewhere for easy digging. Use the hottest chilies you can find. Coarsely grind the whole chilies in a blender or food processor, then sprinkle over garden beds. (You may have chili pepper seedlings the following spring.)
Now is the ideal time to plant garlic for June harvest. All you need is a head of garlic from the grocery store; a sunny site; and rich, well-drained soil. Separate the head into individual cloves and plant, pointed end up, 4 to 6 inches apart in the ground. Don't press them too deeply into the soil -- 1-1/2 to 2 inches below the surface is perfect.
Last Chance for Fruit Tree Clean Up
Rake and remove fallen leaves and fruit from under fruit trees. Insect pests overwinter in decomposing fruit left on the ground and in leaf litter. By removing their hiding places, you improve your chances for a quality crop next year. Fungus diseases such as peach leaf curl overwinter in fallen debris.
Select a sunny spot in your garden to plant wildflowers. Use a hula hoe to remove weeds and loosen the surface of the soil. Broadcast seeds of California poppies, annual lupines, or other wildflowers over the prepared area. Cover with 1/4 inch of potting soil and keep moist until winter rains begin.