On a hillside, dig soil about 9" deep, pull soil to create a front berm, rough up plant's root system, mix soil mix with native soil, settle plant into hole, create 9"-wide flat area around plant, water 3 times to ensure that all soil has "melted" against root system and all soil is thoroughly moistened.
Far from being only a time for cleaning up and shutting down the garden like other parts of the country where severe cold and snow are the winter rule, our Southern California gardens provide another starting-up time for our cool-season veggies and posies.
Several years ago, the commercial nursery theme was “Fall Is For Planting” and this is especially true for us here in SoCal. Every type of plant was promoted – edibles and ornamentals, seeds, bulbs, transplants, annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, and California natives and other drought-tolerant plants. This continues to be a wise approach for us.
The main advantage to planting in the Fall is the months of still-warm-from-summer soil temperatures with mildly chilly air temperatures that enable excellent root establishment. Then, with early Spring’s warming temperatures in February and March, these now-established plants can energetically continue growing where they let off. Consequently they’re able to thrive during the developing heat of late Spring and early Summer. For plants just transplanted in Spring, there’s little time for them to get really well established prior to the onslaught of the heat.
In fact, I much prefer gardening during this time of year because we can keep planting through Winter into Spring, and then harvest for months and months before the heat takes over and makes the plants bolt (go to seed). And, with our increasingly warm winters with little rain and a lack of even minor frosts, the coolness in both air and soil is of great advantage to plants’ continuing establishment of root zones for strongly-growing plants.
While it’s fun to play with planting out-of-prime-season, heat-loving vegetables like tomatoes and squash and beans as an experiment in extending the seasons, I do prefer to grow plants now that love the cool weather and produce mightily – and taste the best because it’s their prime season! Especially if you have limited space or energy, I recommend growing appropriate to the season.
I’ve planted more seeds or transplants of artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, chard, chives, coriander (cilantro), garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustards, green and bulb onions, parsley, peas, radishes, and spinach. I’ve also transplanted about a dozen new perennials.
And also pruned back my years-old established perennials to about 18” mounds, hopefully to entice the rain to moisten the entire expanse of soil.
If and when rain does threaten, I’ll scatter poppy and wildflower seeds throughout the garden to hopefully germinate before the birds find the seeds!
For more Monthly Tips, see November.
For more seasonal past blog discussions, see my homepage listing.