October finally brings relief from summer heat, allowing both gardeners and gardens to enjoy a temperate climate for planting an array of cool season vegetables, trees and shrubs.
Plant Bedding Plants: Plant now for colorful blooms by Thanksgiving. Use nursery six-packs instead of costlier annuals in larger containers. In fall, smaller plants grow bigger and will flower longer than their larger counterparts.
Landscape Trees and Shrubs: Plant drought-resistant trees and shrubs so they have the long, cooler winter months to establish themselves before summer heat. Avoid frost-sensitive plants and those best suited to summer planting. Drought-resistant trees and shrubs include Eucalyptus, California pepper, California sycamore (drought tolerant once established), coast live oak, Italian buckthorn and oleander.
Let Roses Rest: Stop fertilizing roses, water sparingly and don’t cut dead flowers. This will let plants make rose hips (fruits) to allow a smooth transition to winter dormancy.
Plant cool season vegetables: Pull out summer vegetables that have stopped producing. Buy six packs of seasonal vegetables including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, peas, spinach, Brussels sprouts, lettuce and rutabaga. Plant them in well cultivated and amended soil.
Spruce up perennials: Thin out perennials including Shasta daisies, callas and yarrow. Prune overgrown and dead stems, preferably almost to the ground. When the plants grow back, they will fuller with a less straggly appearance.
Herb season: Hardy herbs that can be planted in fall include garlic, oregano, parsley, rosemary, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel and thyme. Basil goes to flower in fall so harvest and dry the leaves and use them for winter cooking.
Cut back on watering: Unless we experience unusually strong and prolonged hot Santa Ana winds, gardeners can reduce the amount of water for their lawn, garden, trees and shrubs. Make sure water timers are shut off when it rains.