Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Toast Pumpkin Seeds
Toast -- don't toss -- your pumpkin seeds when you carve your jack-o'-lantern. Separate the seeds from the stringy pulp by washing the seeds well. Spread them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired. Toast them for 3 or 4 minutes at 375 degrees F, stir, and toast another 2 or 3 minutes until they're evenly golden. Cool them to room temperature, and enjoy!
Harvest Winter Squash
Winter squash, pumpkins, and decorative gourds are ready for harvest when the vines are dry and the rinds are hard and resist easy puncture by a fingernail. Cut the stems rather than breaking or tearing them, and leave 2 inches of stem attached to the squash to lessen the chance of spoilage. Gourds will dry quicker if you drill a small hole at each end. Let them cure in a dry, well-ventilated area at room temperature for two weeks. Store cured squash at 50 to 60 degrees in a dry area. Check them weekly for mold. If any appears, wipe it off with a paper towel moistened with vinegar. Squash should keep up to six months.
Water and Fertilize One Last Time
Give one last deep watering to grapevines and deciduous trees to make them more cold hardy. Feed all overwintering plants with a no-nitrogen, high-phosphorus, high-potassium fertilizer to help them become cold hardy.
Clear Soil Surface
Clear the soil under trees by pulling back the mulch, discarding fruit mummies, and moving leaves to the compost pile as soon as they fall. You'll want all sunny warmth and moist rain to go straight into the soil, unimpeded by mulch. Remove stakes and branch spreaders from trees. Check fruit tree trunk bases for rodent damage, and provide trunk protectors if necessary.
Most perennials and some annuals can be transplanted or divided and replanted. These include acanthus, agapanthus, Japanese anemone, astilbe, bergenia, bleeding hearts, calendulas, evergreen candytuft, columbine, coralbells, coreopsis, michaelmas and Shasta daisies, daylilies, delphiniums, dianthus, dusty miller, foxgloves, heliopsis, hellebores, hollyhocks, bearded iris, peonies, phlox, Oriental poppies, primroses, rudbeckias, monarch daisies, black-eyed Susans, statice, stock, stokesia, veronica, and yarrow. Use a spade or sharp knife to separate the large clumps, or gently pull apart individual plants after loosening the clump from its surrounding soil. Discard the old, unproductive sections. Trim the foliage of young growth to 4 or 6 inches. Dig in compost, replant, and water in well.