I wanted to set the record straight on a few common fall garden chores. California, and especially Central California, is very specialized and lucky area to garden in. We have long wonderful growing seasons, pronounced seasons yet not extremely cold winters. We can grow many things here that other parts of the country can only dream of growing. So let’s get started…
1. Summer garden cleanup. Prune back frost hardy perennials and shrubs to shape and only if they look bad. Perennials that are still green are storing energy for next year so don’t prune leaves off! Deadheading is a good idea unless you want to leave the seeds for the wild birds. Summer veggies that are done producing should be removed. This is a good time to mulch the bare soil well if you don’t plan on planting a winter garden. If you are planting a winter garden, see #3!
2. Fertilize your lawn with a pre-emergent lawn fertilizer like Master Nursery Easy Livin’ or if you prefer organic, Gardner & Bloome Organic Lawn Fertilizer. This is also the time of year to drop the height of your lawn mower. In the winter you can mow shorter to encourage evaporation and reduce possibility of diseases like rust. You don’t want to mow too short however. Not sure how short? Just ask us!
3. Plant your winter garden. The winter garden is so much easier compared to summer. There is less watering, less weeds and less insects! Winter veggies are different too in that you need to plant successions of crops instead of just one planting and a continuous crop like summer veggies. For a list of what you can plant in our area, click here. For a list of odds & ends veggies like onions, garlic, etc and when they arrive, click here. Watch for tips on planting & growing winter veggies from Adria coming soon!
4. Prune trees. Fall is the best time to remove dead or dying limbs from trees, including fruit trees. This is also when you want to make any necessary cuts to thin or correct the structure.
5. Dormant Spray Fruit Trees. Once the leaves have fallen from the fruit trees, it is time to spray. Spraying fruit trees with a combination of liquid copper and dormant oil will reduce insects and diseases next season like Peach Leaf Curl. Watch for more information on this topic or reserve your seat at our Winter Fruit Tree Care Seminar on November 23rd. Click here for more information.
6. Plant your Winter Flowers. If you want color all winter long, now is the time to get your favorite annual in the ground. We like Pansies or Snaps for the sun and Cyclamen for the shade. Don’t forget the fertilizer like Gardner & Bloome Rose & Flower fertilizer or your favorite time release!
7. Force Bulbs for the Holidays! You can force Paperwhites and other bulbs for elegant and aromatic display during your holiday functions. For more information drop by for FREE forcing instructions!
When pruning back ornamental grasses, do not prune them back now. Wait until next spring when new growth begins to push from the crown. Pruning ornamental grasses back in the fall exposes them to colder weather and drying out resulting in poor growth next year, if any! Make sure when you do prune them back, do not prune too far. Depending on the variety only prune to 4-6″. I know that ornamental grasses can become pretty tattered and shaggy by spring but wait as long as you can. Also, leaving grasses during the winter gives wild birds food, nesting materials and shelter.
Do not overwater in the winter! Even if we don’t get rain on a regular basis, the days are shorter and much cooler. On top of that most plants are not actively growing this time of year so they don’t use as much water. You don’t want to reduce the length of watering time, just the frequency. Containers, hanging baskets and beds under eaves or patios are exceptions. They will need water more frequently but still much less than 3 months ago!