Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

October, 2008
Regional Report

Plant for Winter Color

This is the ideal time to plant colorful winter annuals such as pansies, stock, violas, calendulas, and ornamental cabbage. Pull out tired summer annuals and toss them into the compost pile. Amend soil with organic compost prior to planting. Once annuals are in the ground, wait until you see new growth, then fertilize every two weeks with 22-14-14 until the plants are a good size. Then switch to 15-30-15 to promote abundant bloom.

Turn Saucers

If you use saucers under your container plants, turn them upside down so your plants don't sit in water during the winter months. Rain water that collects in saucers will damage roots and cause rot and fungus problems. Continue watering container plants until the rain begins, hopefully in November.

Plant Cool-Season Vegetables

Plant broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, cilantro, cauliflower, and other cool-season vegetable crops now. Root crops such as carrots, beets, and turnips should be planted in well-prepared soil. Mulch around young plants with straw to prevent weed growth. Protect young plants from slugs and snails by covering them with plastic milk jugs with the bottoms cut out. The miniature greenhouses will get your new plants off to a healthy start.

Store Tuberous Begonias

Stop watering tuberous begonias now. When the foliage turns yellow, then brown, gently dig the spent plants from the soil. Shake as much soil off the roots and lay the plants on their sides in a sunny, dry location. Once the tops have turned completely brown, remove the foliage, wash any remaining soil off the tubers, and dry completely in a sunny location. Dust the clean, dry tubers with sulfur to prevent fungus disease. Store the prepared tubers in single layers on newspaper in a cool, dry location until planting time next spring.

Give Tree Trunks Breathing Room

If you have trees growing in your lawn, it's a good idea to remove the turf near the trunk. Grass will cause several problems for trees: mechanical damage from mowers and string trimmers, moisture damage resulting in fungus issues, and problems with the roots such as girdling. Remove the lawn at least 6 to 8 inches from the base of the trunk to expose the buttress roots.

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