Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Harvest Remaining Tomatoes
Even though they might still be green, harvest any remaining tomatoes from the vines. Set unripe fruit in a sunny window. They will eventually turn red, and even though they might not have the flavor of sun ripened tomatoes, they are fine for salads or cooking.
Rake and Compost Fallen Leaves
Keep your garden tidy by raking fallen leaves and adding them to your compost pile. Leaves act as "brown" material so try to add a corresponding amount of "greens." Turn the pile several times before cold weather sets in at the end of the month.
Allow Indoor Plants to Rest
Most indoor plants are native to the tropics where it rains during the late spring and summer months and is dry during the fall and winter. Mimic nature by allowing your houseplants to go dry between waterings. Do the finger test before applying water; if the soil is dry to your first finger knuckle, it's time to water. If the soil still feels damp to the touch, wait another day or two. No fertilizer between now and March please.
Put Damaged Window Screens Back to Work
Recycle and reuse damaged window screens as drying racks for harvested herbs. The screens should be cleaned well with soapy water prior to use. Balance the screens on clean, upended pots so that air can circulate above and below and place in a dark, dry area. Spread harvested herbs in a single layer. Once the herbs become crunchy and dry, store in airtight bags for future use or gift-giving.
Care for Roses
Allow roses to form "hips," or fruits. Our climate is mild and roses will continue to bloom if you remove the faded flowers. Allowing the plants to set fruits and seeds will give them the signal that the growing season is over and it's time for a rest. Rose hips are a favorite food of migrating robins. Heavy pruning can be done in January when the plants are fully dormant.