Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Store Summer-Blooming Bulbs
Dig and store summer blooming bulbs and tubers such as tuberous begonia, dahlia and gladiola after the foliage dies back. Brush off the soil, allow the bulbs to dry for a few days in a shady area, then store in a cool, dry area for the winter. Make sure you store your bulbs in a single layer on newspaper or sawdust to prevent rotting.
Slugs and snails are a menace now. It's not cold enough to keep them home at night and they are out and about, eating their way through your garden. Keep garden beds clean and raked up to eliminate hiding places, surround new plantings with diatomaceous earth, eggshells or fireplace ashes and keep it fresh. Slugs and snails don't like to feel a rough texture on their sensitive foot. Surround garden beds with strips of copper foil. Copper reacts with the body juices of slugs and snails causing an electrical charge that gives these garden dementors an unpleasant jolt. Set beer traps near the surface of the soil. Slugs are real boozers and will help themselves to a fatal sip if available. Pay kids a penny apiece for snails collected from your garden.
Make the fertilizer switch on your cymbidium orchids now. We are blessed with the ideal climate for these exotics that are native to the mountains of Asia. To promote the best bloom, plants need a low-nitrogen fertilizer such as 6-30-30 or 6-25-25 until the buds set. Apply the fertilizer 1/2 strength every week until the end of the year. It's best if the potting bark is damp before applying fertilizer.
Shorter days and cooler temperatures mean that plants don't need as much water as they did during the active growing period. Container plants should be checked prior to watering to make sure the soil is not soggy. Automatic irrigation systems should be reset.
A clean garden is a healthy garden. Good housekeeping now means fewer problems with insect pests next year. Keep fallen fruit and vegetables picked up off the ground. Insect pests, such as the dreaded brown apple moth, overwinter in fallen fruit and foliage. Rake under shrubs to remove slug and snail hiding places.