Summer gardens are starting to see a slowdown in flower and vegetable production in September, which means it is a good time to start planning for a fall garden, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities.
» Plant cool season vegetables: As summer vegetable plants stop producing, replace with vegetable plants that flourish in fall. Vegetables that do particularly well during the fall months include broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce and other greens, onions potatoes, radishes and peas.
Mix in additional potting soil to the garden to replace nutrients that have been depleted over summer.
» Prepare fall flower beds: Fall flowers are just as colorful as their summertime counterparts. The flowers that come in the most color varieties are pansies. These hearty flowers can last for months.
Other flowers that do well in fall are calendulas, English daisies, English primrose, snapdragon, stock and winter jasmine. Before planting, remove any remaining summer annuals, loosen the soil and add 2 to 3 inches of organic planting mix.
» Keep up watering routine: Septembers are typically warm in Southern California and may bring strong, hot Santa Ana winds. Although the days are growing shorter, plants can easily dry out. Keep on your watering schedule. Scale back only during the occasional cold spell. If the Santa Anas are strong, consider bracing young trees with temporary poles.
» Pinch back new blossoms on fruits and vegetables: Existing melons and squash need all the energy their plants can muster. Pinch back any flowers so nutrients stay directed toward growing fruits and vegetables.
» Prune hedges and shrubs: It is time to shape hedges and shrubs by removing straggly stems. Trimming now will prompt healthy, thick growth throughout fall and protect the trees from frost.
» Lawn care: Lawns are still growing in September and October. Mow weekly and water deeply once or twice a week depending on the weather. Consider aerification (coring) with an aerator that can be rented at equipment rental shops. Coring allows for better water and nutrition penetration.
» Plant fall bulbs. Check with your local nursery for its fall bulbs including daffodils, anemone, dahlia, calla lilies, iris, watsonia and freesias. Plant them immediately. Buy tulips and hyacinth and place them in paper bags in your refrigerator for at least six weeks before planting. The bulbs need to be refrigerated for hardiness.
— Diane Rumbaugh is a publicist representing Agromin.