The heat wave we had in September is cooling off. Now – let’s focus on October. October is prime planting month. It’s a good time to plant trees, shrubs, color, groundcover, vegetables roses and of course fruit trees. Get out there and start making the changes you’ve considered this past year. The results of much of the planting and pruning you do now will be evident later on. The soil temperature is still warm which will encourage root growth. Planting now will allow you to take advantage of the winter rains and you’ll see the benefits when the days lengthen in the spring.
Color: Remove the annual color you planted last spring and get ready to replant. If you look at a plant and wonder ‘will it recover?’ the answer is ‘no’. Discard it and replace it with winter color such as Pansy, Kale, Primula, Schizanthus and Viola. Each year there seem to be more exciting cultivars available along with the old favorites. Mix and match to add some fun to your fall color.
Fruits & Vegetables: Keep fruit and vegetables picked to avoid rot spreading to the rest of the crop. Remove vegetable plants that are past their bearing season. Keep the area under the fruit trees clean to discourage disease. Now is the time to plant strawberries for harvest in the spring. Also plant, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes, peas and lettuce.
Lawn: Consider removal of your lawn, considering the drought. However – if you keep your lawn, continue to mow weekly and fertilize monthly. Treat dead patches in your lawn with the appropriate fungicide or insecticide to control the problem. Then reseed to have a strong lawn in the spring. Now is also a good time to aerate your lawn.
Roses & Flowers: Feed and water roses deeply to promote a strong fall blooming season. Dead-head all varieties to prolong the flowering period. Plant wildflower seed.
Consider adding some ornamental grasses to your landscape. The movement and texture they provide is a great compliment to leafy plants and they’re virtually maintenance free and very water efficient.
If you haven’t done so yet, plant your bulbs. For bulbs that need a longer period of cold to bloom effectively (tulips & hyacinth), place them in a paper bag in the refrigerator away from fruit. Now is the time also to divide Agapanthus, Iris, Moraea and Daylilies.
Prepare for Santa Ana conditions. Trim trees with heavy top branches. Water deeply and thoroughly. Double check stakes on young trees. During the winds, water lightly and frequently to help keep the moisture in your landscape.
September is a great time of year in your landscape. The ornamental grasses that you’ve planted should be flowering right now and at their peak. With the days shortening, be careful not to water too late in the day to discourage diseases – and – with the drought in effect – don’t forget the watering schedules your water district has enforced: http://www.sdcwa.org/find-your-water-district/. Fertilize your entire garden. At the minimum, an easy way to remember when to fertilize is to do it on the first day of the three growing seasons; the first day of spring, the first day of summer and the first day of fall. Mark your calendar for September 21st. A good all-purpose fertilizer can be used on most of your plants including fruit trees. Fertilize Azaleas, Camellias and Gardenias with a high acid fertilizer. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
Color: Now is the time to plant Delphinium, Dianthus and Digitalis. Mums should be available also along with Iceland Poppies, Primula, Snapdragons and Stock. Marigolds and Petunias may be looking a little tired. Clip old blooms to stretch their time in the garden. Begin planting spring bulbs this month. Plant in masses in the ground or in pots to create a spectacular spring show. The iris in your garden can be cut back and divided now in preparation for next spring.
Fruits & Vegetables: In mild winter climates, plant your first crop of lettuce. Plant every few weeks to have a continual crop. Plant beets, broccoli, cabbage, onions, peas and spinach also. Don’t plant during a heat wave.
Roses & Flowers: Keep deadheading all flowers to prolong the bloom period. Fertilize roses now to encourage blooms next month.
Do a test run on your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. Make sure that you maintain the watering schedule for plants in pots that are not part of the irrigation system. Rinse off the foliage in your landscape to remove dust from plants which can be a habitat for mites and other insects.
If it freezes where you live, put a thick layer of mulch down to help protect the roots during the upcoming cooler temperatures.
In your vegetable or flower garden, add a layer of compost (2-3 inches for good soil, 4-6 inches for clay or sandy soil). Mixing this in now will put needed nutrients back into the soil and you’ll reap the benefits in the crops you plant now and in the spring.
With longer days and increased heat, August is the time of year where your garden is stressed the most. Remember three important watering tips: 1) water in the morning, 2) water the roots not the leaves, 3) it’s better to water deep occasionally than water shallow often. Now is a good time to take a serious look at your garden to determine any changes that you may want to make during cooler months.
Color: Assess your annual and perennial color. If an annual is looking peaked, it’s best just to dig it up and discard it. A perennial that’s not looking its best can be cut back a couple of inches and it should rejuvenate quickly. Continue to deadhead spent flowers for a long lasting bloom season.
Fruits & Vegetables: Trim suckers off fruit trees and vines. Supplemental water shallow root trees such as Citrus & Avocado. Watch for evidence of thrips.
Lawn: Continue to fertilize your lawn monthly through October. Raising the blade on your lawnmower and allowing the blades to grow to 2-2 ½” will help keep the ground moisture in your lawn. Also, mowing weekly will help keep weeds at bay.
Roses & Flowers: Deadhead roses and feed after the bloom cycle. Keep deadheading all flowers to prolong the bloom period. Trim back hanging baskets that may be starting to look unruly. Pinch back Impatiens that may be starting to stretch.
Prepare for the fire season by removing dead branches and leaves from trees and shrubs. Cut tall grasses and weeds to stubble. Remove dead leaves which are considered fuel from gutters and around the base of structures. If you don’t have an evacuation plan established, get one and make sure all the members of your family are aware of it.
Like every month, do a test run on your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. Make sure that you establish a watering schedule for plants in pots that are not part of the irrigation system. Move plants in pots that seem to be in a constant state of wilt into a shadier spot for the next couple of months.
Heat can bring on attacks from garden pests in all forms. Watch for rust, spider mites, caterpillars, thrips, scale and grubs along with a multitude of other pests. Be sure to treat effectively always following the manufacturer’s instructions to halt the problem before it gets out of control.
Your garden will respond this month to the long days of sunshine and warm weather. The annuals you planted earlier in the year should be looking their best and the fruit trees should be loaded with fruit. Some of the vegetables you’ve planted are being harvested and your garden overall should look spectacular. Spend more time outside doing simple chores and enjoy what you’ve created.
Color: While many of your annuals are probably at their peak, it’s not too late to add a few plants to your beds and pots. Marigolds, Salvia, Zinnia, Verbena and many other varieties are available to plant in the sun. As always, bedding Begonias and Impatiens are available for the shade along with Coleus and Kalanchoe.
Fruits & Vegetables: Plums and Peaches on your fruit trees should be ready to pick and enjoy. Early crops such as beans and cucumbers may be ready to harvest this month. Remove fruit and vegetables as they ripen. Leaving them on the plant can encourage pests and diseases. You can replant now for another vegetable crop later this year. Prune spent canes off of fruiting vines.
Lawn: Raising the blade on your lawnmower and allowing the blades to grow to 2-2 ½” will help keep the ground moisture in your lawn. In consideration of the drought, be sure to establish a twice weekly watering schedule.
Roses & Flowers: Deadhead roses and feed after the bloom cycle. Keep deadheading all flowers to prolong the bloom period.
Mulch flower beds and around shrubs and trees to help retain soil moisture through these typically hottest months.
Like every month, do a test run on your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. Make sure that you establish a watering schedule for plants in pots that are not part of the irrigation system and again – be sure to establish a watering schedule in compliance with the drought mandates (all are two days a week – but check this link to find your local water agency’s rules: http://www.sdcwa.org/find-your-water-district
Viewing your landscape this month you have a real feeling of satisfaction. The flowers are in full bloom, vegetables and fruit trees are both producing and the weather has warmed up just enough to be enjoyable. Spend time in your yard. Relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors.
Color: For a quick-fix to your garden, add fast growing annuals like Petunias, Vinca, Marigolds and Zinnia. There is a plethora of color available right now to add interest to your flower beds and borders. Experiment and try something different. New varieties of Alyssum, Celosia, Coreopsis, Foxglove and Gazania are all great summer color. Plant those now. Also try Dianthus, Hollyhocks and Penstemon. For color in the shade, besides Impatiens and Begonias, try Coleus, Kalanchoe and Heuchera. Continue to pinch back faded blossoms.
Fruits & Vegetables: Summer vegetables such as squash, beans and tomatoes that are planted much after the first of the month, won’t be in the ground long enough to give you a significant crop. Get them in right away. There’s still time to plant beets, beans, melons, radishes, squash and heat tolerant lettuces. Plant the last patch of corn this month. Keep fruit and vegetables picked. Remove any fallen produce that may attract unwanted pests or encourage diseases that may spread to other parts of your landscape. Be sure to keep herbs pinched back.
Lawn: Keep in mind the water restrictions recently enforced – to irrigate ornamental landscapes no more than two days a week across the region – See more at: http://www.sdcwa.org/state-water-use-reduction-mandates-start-today for more details and your water agency’s specific watering schedule. Lightly fertilize and be sure to mow on a weekly basis. If you haven’t raised the blade on your lawn mower, raise it now to about 2 – 2 ½”. It’s also a good time to have the blade re-sharpened.
Roses & Flowers: Please see our blog – “How to take care of your roses when in a drought” for this month’s advice on roses.
Irrigation: Again, keep in mind the water restrictions enforced state-wide on June 1st. Rebates are available for switching out your irrigation products. One to take advantage of is for installing rotor type sprinklers (MP Rotators) instead of fixed spray sprinklers. These rotating sprinklers reduce runoff and put out about 1/3 the water of a regular spray head. Check the Be Water Wise website for rebates – www.bewaterwise.com. Rebates are also available for various water efficient irrigation tools such as weather based irrigation controllers and soil moisture sensors. Check the SoCal Water Smart website for details – www.socalwatersmart.com