Southern California’s usually mild September climate is the perfect time to add splashes of color to a flower garden, plant cool weather vegetables from seed and introduce new trees to your yard.
Do a Garden Clean-Up
Dead leaves and fallen fruit and vegetables attract pests and diseases. Before adding new items to your garden, spend time removing plant debris.
Revitalize Flower Beds
Prepare flower beds for cool weather flowers. Loosen the soil, spread at least three inches of organic compost over the soil and then mix thoroughly. Use the right kind of compost for the type of soil. Compost made for clay soil will loosen the soil to make it workable and allow water to penetrate. Compost for sandy soil will likely contain humus, which gives the soil structure.
Plant Flowers From Seed
There are a surprisingly large number of flowers that thrive in fall and winter. These include African daisy, alyssum, calendula, California poppy, chrysanthemum, delphinium, forget-me-not, foxglove, Gerbera daisy, larkspur, pansy, Shasta daisy, snapdragon, stock, sweet pea, verbena, viola and an assortment of wildflowers. Plant them in September for a beautiful winter flower display.
September is the time when bulbs become available at local nurseries. Bulbs that will produce flowers year after year include Dutch iris, calla lily, small-flowered daffodils and watsonia. Once the flowers finish blooming in spring, the plants will go dormant but begin growth again in fall. Some bulbs, such as tulips and hyacinth should be placed in paper bags in the refrigerator for at least six weeks before planting.
Plant a Fall Vegetable Garden
Cool weather vegetables include peas, fava beans, kale, leeks beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, radish, carrots, celery and winter zucchini. After planting in September, plan to harvest vegetables in late winter or early spring. Tomato varieties such as Champion, Glacier, Taxi and Siberia can be planted in September. By mid-to late-October, you will be able to harvest a full crop. Pick the fruit a bit early and let them ripen indoors.
Prune Hedges and Shrubs
Left along, hedges and shrubs can quickly become unkempt eyesores. Prune long straggly stems. This will generate new growth before winter. A hedge or shrub that is well groomed and free from stray stems offers the best protection from winter frost damage.
One of the best times to plant trees is in late fall. Planting them in September and October, gives trees a chance to develop their root system and become thoroughly established before the onset of the spring growing season. Because they do not have to be under the stress of summer sun, these newly planted trees require less water in fall than they would if planted in spring.
Bill Camarillo is CEO of Agromin, an Oxnard, California-based manufacturer of soil products and the composter for cities throughout Southern California. Each month, Agromin receives more than 30,000 tons of organic material and then uses a safe, natural and sustainable process to transform the material into premium soil products. The results are more vigorous and healthier plants and gardens, and on the conservation side, the opportunity to close the recycling loop, allow more room in landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. agromin.com
Photo. Sharon McCutcheon