Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

October, 2005
Regional Report

Sow Wildflower Seeds

Now is the ideal time to plant wildflowers from seed. Clear the ground of weeds before planting to avoid competition. Scratch the surface of the soil so that 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 eliminate many fungus diseases. For faster composting, chop debris into small pieces.

Dig and Store Dahlias

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. Divide the clumps, remove any foliage or stems, then wash off the excess soil. Allow the tubers to dry overnight, then wrap them in damp moss or newspaper and place in a cardboard box. Dahlia tubers should never dry out completely. Store them in a well-ventilated, cool area.

Continue to Water

Continue watering shrubs, lawns, flower beds, winter vegetable gardens, and trees until winter rains begin in earnest. Although plants use less water now than earlier in the season, it's a good idea to keep them watered so they stay healthy and less susceptible to insect pests.

Plant for Permanence

Fall is the ideal time to plant shrubs, trees, and lawns. The sun has lost its teeth and the soil is still warm. That means plants can become established underground with little or no stress to the foliage. Water after planting and continue to water until the winter rains begin.

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