Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

October, 2000
Regional Report

Start Seeds


Gardeners are fortunate. They can appreciate fall's dreary weather, especially if it's also drizzly. That weather is perfect for sowing seeds in the garden. Warm soil temperatures, moisture, and bright but indirect light ensure quick germination. Little attention has to be given to extra watering or shading from the harsh sun. In no time you're on your way to a fall garden.

Plant Iris, Daylilies, and Lilies

Plant iris rhizomes, daylily crowns, and lily bulbs now in well-drained soil amended with organic matter. Iris rhizomes prefer to sit on top of the soil, with only their roots buried. Daylily crowns like to be planted 1 inch below the soil surface. Lily bulbs like a 3-inch layer of humus on top of their roots. Irises love all the sun they can get, daylilies will bloom nicely in full sun or part shade, and lilies need their bases shaded but their foliage in the sun.

Add Leaves to Your Garden

To add organic matter to your soil, collect and pile as many leaves and as much other organic material into your garden as you can. Incorporate everything loosely into the soil, creating a mix of soil and green and brown stuff. Then water it well to start breaking down the raw mix. Winter rains will keep it moist, and it will break down in no time.

Winter Garden Planning

If you want a winter garden to harvest from but also want to build the soil, here\'s what to do. Divide your garden space in half. Grow some overwintering crops such as kale, lettuce, and carrots on one side and eat them all winter long. On the other side, dig in soil amendments such as leaves, grass clippings, and straw in preparation for spring planting.

Final Feeding

Give one last deep watering to grapevines and deciduous trees such as peaches to keep them strong going into winter. A light feeding of a fertilizer that contains phosphorus and potassium will also help them endure the cold. However, discontinue feeding plants with any nitrogen. The resulting new growth will be tender and susceptible to frost damage.

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