The summer gardening season is nearly over so it is time to start planting cool weather vegetables and flowers that don’t mind lower temperatures, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities including those in Santa Barbara County.
» Out with the old, in with the new: Most summer vegetable plants have run their course. It is time to cull those that are no longer producing and add new vegetables that do well in cooler weather. These vegetables include peas, fava beans, kale, leeks beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, radish, carrots, celery and winter zucchini. If planted now, vegetables will be ready in late winter or early spring.
» Plant fall flowers: Southern California Septembers are typically warm during the day with a cool down at night. This temperate climate makes it ideal to plant an array of flowers for fall and winter blooms. These include pansies, calendula, foxgloves, stock, sweet alyssum, chrysanthemums, sweet peas, snapdragons and asters. If planting from seed, keep the seeded area moist and shaded until the seedlings are at least several inches tall. This will protect the delicate plants from the sun’s warm rays.
» Soil preparation for garden beds: If you have an ambitious gardening agenda for fall and winter, now is the time to reinvigorate your garden beds. After removing tired vegetables and annual flowers, loosen the soil and mix in three to four inches of compost. The compost will add nutrients to the soil that will give your new plantings what they need to grow. If you are planting in a new area, water the area deeply, remove weeds, break up the soil and then add compost.
» Pick your bulbs: You will find two main kinds of spring-blooming bulbs at your local nursery or garden center in September — tulips and hyacinth. Both need to be chilled for six weeks before planting. Place the bulbs in paper bags in your refrigerator and then plant in early November. For best results, be sure to select the biggest, firmest and freshest-looking bulbs.
» Prune hedges and shrubs: After a summer growth spurt, many hedges and shrubs have lost their shape and are sprouting long straggly stems. Prune and reshape now, as this will prompt new growth before winter. Well-pruned hedges and shrubs hold in heat and will protect the plants if a frost occurs in winter.
» Lawn decisions: Many homeowners have abandoned watering their lawns to save on water bills. Now is a good time to decide whether to cut back on the amount of lawn in your yard (some homeowner associations require homeowners maintain a certain amount of lawn). Much of a lawn (particularly around the edges) can be replaced with drought-tolerant ground cover. Types of ground cover that do well with little water include dymondia, yarrow, sedums, lantana, verbenas and even thyme.
» Santa Ana wind watch: Keep an eye out for Santa Ana winds, which lower humidity and soak up water from the soil. When these winds occur, keep any new plants well hydrated.
— Diane Zakian Rumbaugh is a publicist representing Agromin.