Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Herbs for Gift-Giving
Harvest herbs for making wreaths or vinegars as holiday presents. Herb wreaths are easy to make and can include whatever herbs are most used by your recipient. Good choices include basil, oregano, marjoram, anise, parsley, thyme, sage, dill, and tarragon.
Cover Frost-Tender Plants
Cover tender plants still being harvested -- beans, cucumbers, eggplants, okra, peppers, and tomatoes -- and keep them well-watered to protect them against early frosts. Don't allow plastic or glass covers to touch the foliage, however, or the frost may damage it. Harvest all the fruits before the first hard freeze. If they are exposed to freezing temperatures, eat them immediately or they'll spoil quickly.
Lots of Little Florets
For the greatest yields of broccoli, pinch out the main shoot a month after transplanting. This will force several large side shoots. If you wait and cut the main head after it has reached its full size, you'll get more numerous, but smaller, side shoots. Or consider seeding "sprouting" broccoli varieties for many small shoots -- and ultimately more servings!
Roses: No More Water or Food
Discontinue watering and feeding roses, and mulch roses with manure and compost. Prune them lightly to remove the long, bloomed-out canes, but save hard pruning until January, when plants are fully dormant. Severe pruning now will encourage new growth that will freeze with the first frosts, wasting all that plant energy.
Dig in Manure and Compost
Before the soil absorbs too much rain, dig in manure and compost. These will break down over the winter, and nutrients will be available for immediate use when seeds are sown and transplants begin to grow vigorously in the spring. Another approach is to lay manure down now but wait until spring to dig it into the soil; until then, the rains will percolate through the manure and provide "manure tea" to enrich the soil underneath.