With the cooling weather and soon-to-arrive rains, now is the time to clean up your garden beds in preparation for the winter. From adding mulch to preparing your tulip bulbs for your garden, find out what you can be doing this month in your garden.
Clean garden beds in preparation for winter. Many insects and diseases over-winter in fallen debris. Prune diseased leaves from roses, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas. Leave leaf litter under oaks, pine and junipers; the leaf duff helps protect the roots.
Add a mulch layer to existing garden beds to provide needed nutrients for next year’s crops. However, don’t practice wall-to-wall mulching – it’s important to leave areas of exposed native soil for our ground-nesting bees.
Trim perennials such as salvias, penstemons, yarrow and buddleia (butterfly bush) to half or a third their existing size to stimulate healthy new growth in the spring.
Harvest persimmons by cutting versus pulling the fruit off to avoid damaging the tree. Harvest Fuyu persimmons when firm and crisp; wait to harvest the Hachiya variety until fruit is soft. Persimmon trees grow to about 25’ tall and wide, making it a nicely contained choice for a landscape tree.
Chill tulip bulbs now in order to plant before the first frost. Tulip bulbs need approximately 6-8 weeks of chilling time before planting (place them in the refrigerator, not the freezer). Avoid storing your bulbs near apples. Apples emit ethylene gas which will cause the bulbs to sprout prematurely.
Sow native wildflowers; poppies, clarkias, lupines and blue-eyed Marys are easy to start from seed. Plant just before the winter rains start to prevent the need for manual watering.
Take inventory of your yard and landscape. This is a great time to remove and replace woody, tired-looking annuals, perennials and shrubs. Planting now will allow you to take advantage of fall and winter rains. For water-wise options, choose plants that do well in a Mediterranean climate – look for ones native to California, Australia and/or South Africa.
For our complete list of October Gardening Tips, click on: http://www.mastergardeners.org/tips/october.html