UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA

October Tips

Garden Help > Monthly Tips

Monthly tips are categorized by To-Dos, What to Plant, or Pests and Diseases. Scroll through the list to see items in each category. Also, refer to our list of tips useful for any month.

1. To-do

  • Growing Vegetables in Containers -

    Growing Vegetables in ContainersContainer grown vegetables can be decorative as well as good to eat. Almost any vegetable can be grown in a container if given the proper care. Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, carrots, cucumbers and herbs do well. Use our Vegetable Planting Chart to decide when to plant.

    One of the biggest problems is that containers dry out very fast and nutrients wash away. Both are solvable. Do not use clay pots, which dry out quickly. Plastic, composite or wooden half-barrels are good, but avoid dark colors that can absorb heat. Vegetables like a roomy container.

    There must be drainage holes in the bottom but it is not recommended that you put pebbles or broken crockery in the bottom. Use a good commercial potting mix, not planter or planting mix. Group the containers together so they will shade one another.

    The hot summer sun can heat the soil to unhealthy levels. Water whenever the soil is dry. You can test by digging your fingers into the dirt. You may have to water more than once a day. A simple drip system is easy to install and will make your container garden almost foolproof. Fertilize every week with a water-soluble fertilizer.

    - February, March, April, October, November
  • Winter Soil Health -
    Straw mulch in vegetable garden, by Jack Kelly Clark, UC
    Straw mulch in vegetable garden, by Jack Kelly Clark, UC
    Areas of the garden that are not actively planted still need protection to support soil life and prevent soil erosion. Cover crops are one option. Their roots break up the soil, and if they are legumes, like fava beans, they add essential nitrogen. Mulches hold in moisture, moderate soil temperature, and help prevent weeds from germinating. Unlike rocks and synthetic mulches, organic mulches like leaves, wood chips, or straw also slowly break down, beneficial soil organisms, and add nutrients to the soil. A top layer of an inch or two of compost will slowly work down into the soil, amending it with organic matter. Manure from herbivores can also be spread over the top of the soil. Even fresh manure, which could burn plants if applied directly, can be used over a bare area to decompose in place and be ready for the next planting season.
     
    More Information: Keep Your Soil Healthy
     
    - October, November
  • Lawn Care -

    Lawn, by Donna Lee
    As the weather changes, many of our management techniques have to change. Lawns need more water as the temperature increases and the humidity lowers. But please be sure not to overwater, too much water is being wasted by going below the root zone or running off.  Adjust timers monthly throughout the year. In the warmer months, lawns may need water twice a week. It is not good to water daily. If watering is daily and brief, the roots will stay shallow and susceptible to drying and burning. Be sure to water as early in the morning as possible to avoid evaporation. This also helps reduce fungal diseases by giving the grass time to dry out during the day. Poor watering practices are the main reason for dead and dying areas in lawns and a common source of urban runoff.

    Make sure you are mowing to a height appropriate for your type of grass. Mow frequently enough so that only one-third of the leaf is removed at any one time.

    Fertilizing is important, even if you are grasscycling, which only provides about 20% of a lawn's fertilizer needs. Grass is all leaf so the primary nutrient needed is nitrogen. Keep on top of weed removal.

    Thatch is the layer of living and dead grass material (blades, rhizomes, stolons) that can build up on the surface of the lawn. A thin layer protects the soil surface and shallow roots from drying out from the sun, but a thick layer prevents water from getting through. You can remove dead grass material on the soil surface with a special thatch rake to allows water to reach the roots more easily. 

    More Information: The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns

    - May, June, July, August, September, October
  • Persimmon Harvesting -

    Persimmons - Fuyu
    Persimmons - Fuyu
    Persimmon season is here. The skin of the fruit turns orange when fully ripe. The flat bottomed Fuyu persimmons will still be fairly firm when ready and can be eaten raw like a crispy apple or sliced up and cooked into an apple-style pie. Fruit that falls from the tree early may continue to ripen on the counter despite the green skin. Heart-shaped Hachiya persimmons turn almost jelly-like inside when ripe.  It is best to eat raw by cutting it in half and digging it out with a spoon. They can also be used in baking. If you eat an unripe Hachiya persimmon, you will gain a new understanding of the word “astringent”! To protect the persimmons from birds and squirrels, it is necessary to wrap the tree with bird netting or cover it in a structure made with chicken wire before the fruits are ripe.

    More information: Persimmons

    - October, November
  • When to Pick Pomegranates? -

    Split pomegranate, UC photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey
    Pomegranates are ripe when the rind changes from a shiny to a matte finish and when tapped make a pinging or metallic sound. In Santa Clara Valley, the fruit generally ripens in October–November or six to seven months after flowering. To harvest, it is better to clip rather than twist the fruit off the stem, which may cause injury to the fruit, stem or both. The fruit will ripen all at the same time and cannot be ripened off the tree. The California Rare Fruit Growers have more information about pomegranates.

    - September, October
  • Fall Irrigation -

    You can still expect some warm weather during October, so keep watering the garden until the fall and winter rains begin. As temperatures drop, less water is needed for plants.

    Check your soil periodically by digging gently into the soil next to the root, about 6 inches down (deeper for bigger plants). If the soil does not hold a shape when squeezed it is too dry; if it continues to hold shape after the pressure is released it is too wet; if the soil has a shape then crumbles quickly, it has the right amount of water.

    Hydrozone any new plantings by putting plants with similar water needs together. This helps ensure that less water is wasted and that all plants get the right amount of water.

    If you have an automatic watering system, this is a good time to inspect the system for leaks and blockages, check the timer for batteries, and reprogram the system as necessary for cooler weather and rain.

    If you don't have an automatic watering system, think about installing one. Many systems are very affordable and easy to install by the home gardener. Take a look at some "smart meters". They are more expensive, but incorporate weather conditions, your location, and your soil into the programming, making them very efficient.

    - October
  • Olive Harvest -

    Harvest olives grown for the table when fruit is still green. Olives grown for oil can be harvested when the fruit is yellow to reddish-purple and the flesh is still green-yellow. Continue irrigating until first rains. Apply fixed copper to prevent peacock spot before the first major rain, and be sure to wash the fruit before use or wait until after harvest to spray.

    - October
  • Wildfire Effects -
    We and our gardens have all been affected to varying degrees by the wildfires. If you have fruits and vegetables in your garden, you may be wondering if they are safe to eat. The simple answer is that there will likely be some chemicals in the plants, soil, and possibly the water, yet the benefits of eating the produce are thought to outweigh any potential risks. University of California Cooperative Extension Sonoma was involved in a study after the 2017 fires and a report on Produce Safety after Urban Wildfire is available for those interested in learning more. Chemicals present in smoke vary depending on what burns: toxins from building fires differ from those of trees and grasses. When working in a garden that has been exposed to smoke and fire, consider wearing a mask and gloves. Wash produce well before eating it. To help the garden recover, amend the soil with compost or fresh soil. Keep in mind the nutritional benefits of consuming fresh produce!
     
    For the oenophiles out there, UC has published a report on the effects of fire on wine grapes. “Smoke taint” can produce undesirable flavors in the wine ranging from “wet ashtray” to “sweaty socks.”
     
    More Information: Produce Safety After a Fire
    - September, October
  • Transplanting Vegetables -
    Newly sprouted squash seedlings, by Laura Monczynski
    As vegetable seedlings start to outgrow their pots, you can transplant them into larger pots, raised beds, or the ground. Make sure the seedling is well-watered before moving it. To remove the plant, either turn the pot upside down — with your other hand positioned to catch it! — or pull the entire root ball out with a fork or other utensil. Be sure never to handle the seedling by the stem, with its vascular tissue that conducts water and food. If the roots are packed together or circling, gently pull them apart. Then gently move the plant to its new home, lightly packing the soil around it. Make sure the soil is at the same level on the stem as in its original pot, except for tomatoes and peppers which can be planted deep. Immediately water thoroughly. A little fertilizer can also be added when transplanting. Transplant shock can be minimized by not changing too many conditions at once, e.g., temperature, wind, or sun exposure.
     
    More information: Vegetable Planting Handbook (Los Angeles Master Gardeners)
     
    - February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October
  • Change to Cool-Season Planting -
    Old cucumber plants to be removed, by Laura Monczynski
    Many things go into deciding when to take out your warm-season vegetables and when to put in your cool-season crops. For example, are the current plants starting to be less productive? Is the amount of food you’re getting no longer worth the amount of water you are using? Are there a lot more yellow or brown leaves? Are there more signs of pests and diseases that are weakening plants, reducing photosynthesis, and spreading pathogens? Are botanical fruits like peppers producing fewer flowers, or are herbs producing more flowers and going to seed? Have you had your fill of certain vegetables or are your canning jars and freezer full? And do you need the space for your winter crops? In order to maximize both seasons, you can start cool-season vegetables in containers, interplant them with soon-to-be-removed vegetables, or buy them later as transplants.
     
    More information: Vegetable calendar
     
    - September, October
  • Fall Garden Cleanup -
    Natural leaf decomposition
    Natural leaf decomposition
    It’s an excellent idea to keep the garden clean at all times and to remove dead or dying plants or diseased material. Yet there may be bigger seasonal cleanups when taking out plants that have finished producing or that need to be removed to make room for new plants. Trim woody or overgrown perennials. Remove plant debris that allows insects and diseases to overwinter and then reproduce. Always pick up fruit promptly from the ground to not invite critters or allow diseases to proliferate. It's best to leave fallen leaves in place unless they are diseased. They provide a mulch layer while slowly breaking down and returning nutrients to the soil and then back to the plants. Particularly during a drought, having the soil covered is important for moisture retention.  If the leaves are diseased, they need to be removed and put out with the yard waste. Monitor the health of your plants while you're out cleaning up. 
     
     
    - October, November
  • Organic Soil Amendments -

    After harvesting remaining summer crops, add amendments such as blood meal, alfalfa pellets or fish emulsion to replenish nitrogen in the soil. Add a layer of compost to all existing garden beds to provide needed nutrients for winter crops. Be sure to leave some areas of native soil for ground-nesting bees.

    - October
  • Apple and Pear Harvest -

    The harvest for apples, and some varieties of pears (Bosc, Comice, Winter Nellis, and some Asian Pears), is likely coming to a close. When harvest is finished, irrigate and fertilize the trees as you have been. Clean up fallen leaves and fruit and discard to prevent apple scab and coddling moth.

    - October
  • Almond and Walnut Harvest -

    Almonds are harvested when the shell is cracked and brown. Freeze nuts for 1-2 weeks to kill resident worms, store nuts in plastic bags to prevent re-infestation, and spray the tree with fixed copper during or after leaf fall but before rains start to reduce damage from shot hole fungus.

    Walnuts are fully mature when green hull begins to break away from the shell. Harvest by poling or shaking the tree. Remove the green hulls, then freeze nuts in the shell to kill any resident worms. Store in plastic.

    - October

3. Pests and Diseases

  • Almond and Walnut Harvest -

    Almonds are harvested when the shell is cracked and brown. Freeze nuts for 1-2 weeks to kill resident worms, store nuts in plastic bags to prevent re-infestation, and spray the tree with fixed copper during or after leaf fall but before rains start to reduce damage from shot hole fungus.

    Walnuts are fully mature when green hull begins to break away from the shell. Harvest by poling or shaking the tree. Remove the green hulls, then freeze nuts in the shell to kill any resident worms. Store in plastic.

    - October
  • Bagrada Bug -

    Bagrada BugThe Bagrada bug is a small (1/4”) stink bug that is most commonly found on vegetables in the Brassica family including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, turnip, and mustard greens. Home gardeners should carefully inspect their plants and shipping containers prior to planting. A good time to inspect is right after watering when pests hiding in the space between the potting mix and the sides of the container may be flushed out and more easily detected. Plant seedlings late this month when they are big and robust. If you find nymphs on the plants, use insecticidal soap. See UC Pest Note on Bagrada Bug for further information.

    - October
  • Cabbage Aphids -

    The grey-green cabbage aphid is often found on cool season vegetables. They prefer to feed on the youngest leaves and flowering parts and are often seen on cabbages, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

    Hose them off plants or prune out infestations. Grow flowers in your vegetable garden to attract beneficial insects, which are their natural enemies.

    See UC Pest Note on Cabbage Aphid to identify and manage this insect.

    - October
  • Leafminers -

    Watch for damage from leafminers on leaves of beets, chard, and spinach. Eggs are inserted into leaves and larvae feed between leaf surfaces, creating a "mine." Plant resistant species or varieties. Small seedlings can be protected by protective cloth. On plants such as cole crops, lettuce, and spinach, clip off and remove older infested leaves. Place leaves in plastic bag, and put bag in trash. Leafminers are often kept under good control by natural parasites. Insecticides are not very effective for leafminer control. See UC Pest Note on Leafminers for additional information.

    - October
  • Cabbageworms -

    Examine your cabbage and broccoli plants for imported cabbageworms. Larvae are green and very hairy, with an almost velvet-like appearance. Handpick the worms. The adult cabbage butterfly is white with one to four black spots on the wings; they are often seen fluttering around the fields. Whitish, rocket-shaped eggs are laid singly on the undersides of leaves. The cabbageworm is active throughout the year in California. Use row covers or screening to keep the adults out of your vegetables. For more information see UC Pest Note on Imported Cabbageworm.

    - October, November, December
  • Powdery Mildew -

    Powdery mildew on squash leaves
    Powdery mildew on squash leaves
    Have you ever seen a squash or melon without white powder on the leaves in the fall? This fungal disease is called powdery mildew. It affects several vegetable, fruit, and ornamental plants; yet it seems almost inevitable on members of the Cucurbitaceae family which includes cucumbers, gourds, melons, squashes, and pumpkins.

    Powdery mildew likes warm days and cool nights. Unlike most other fungi, it does not need moisture to thrive. Early symptoms include yellow chlorotic spots on the leaves. The presence of the fungus becomes obvious as it starts to produce spores that look like white powder on leaves. Eventually, the leaves will turn brown and dry.

    The best defense is to plant varieties that are resistant to powdery mildew. Also helpful is planting in full sun with good air circulation through the plants. Washing off the leaves, preferably in the morning, can buy some time. Powdery mildew generally affects the older leaves first, and you can remove these when they are too covered to be able to photosynthesize. Fungicides can help but you want to be careful about using them around something you are going to eat. At some point, the plant may decline so much that it needs to be removed.

    More Information: Powdery Mildew on Vegetables
     
    - August, September, October
  • Sooty Mold -

    If your citrus leaves have a black coating, you may have a sooty mold problem. This black mold can also be seen on citrus fruit, avocado leaves, magnolia leaves, hibiscus, other host plants, and even on sidewalks beneath trees.

    The sooty mold fungi grow on “honeydew”, a sticky substance excreted by plant-sucking insects such as aphids, scale, mealybug, and whitefly. They suck the sap out of plants and excrete excess sugars. It exists purely on the surface of a plant and is not a systemic issue. By itself, the fungi cannot kill the plant but it can coat the leaves to the extent that sunlight is prevented from reaching the leaf surface, thus reduce photosynthesis. 

    Ants protect the sucking insects from their predators so they can eat the honeydew. Keep ants out of trees and away from honeydew-producing insects by applying a sticky compound such as Tanglefoot on a tape wrapped around the trunk.

    Pruning branches to allow better air circulation also helps. You can hose off the mold itself with a strong jet of water. And you can eat the fruit once you wash off the sooty mold.  
     
    For more information, see Sooty Mold Management Guide.
     
    - August, September, October, November, December
  • Mosquitoes -
    Make sure you don’t have any water sitting around from our late rains. Mosquitos breed in standing water and can pass along deadly West Nile Virus to people. Check and dump water from any buckets, pots, saucers, dishes, or wheelbarrows. Put containers away or turn them over to avoid collecting additional water. Keep chemicals balanced in swimming pools. Ponds, fountains, and bird baths can also be breeding grounds. Add mosquitofish to these bodies of water to eat mosquito larvae. They are an environmentally friendly means of control and are available free of charge from Santa Clara County Vector Control.
     
    More Information: Mosquito Management
     
    - January, February, March, April, May, October, November, December

2. What to plant

  • Selecting Seeds -
    While curled up inside the warm, dry house poring through seed catalogs, how do you decide among all the delightful descriptions? First, be clear on the purpose of your garden. Are you trying to grow exotic food? Do you want to attract native butterflies? Are you interested in flowers you can cut and bring inside? Next, think about the conditions of your site. Is it warm and sunny or is there a lot of shade? Do you have heavy clay soil? Choosing seeds that do well in your area makes for healthier plants with less work. At this point, you have the parameters within which to choose what tickles your fancy. If you would like to save seeds in the future, then choose open-pollinated seeds, including heirlooms. Heirlooms are open-pollinated seeds that have been around for multiple generations. Otherwise, you can plant hybrids that have the best traits of their parent plants but will not reproduce true to type from saved seeds. Follow planting directions on the packet for the best results.
     
    More Information: Seed Saving
     
    - January, February, March, May, June, July, August, October
  • Shrubs -
    Photo: Ceanothus sp., by Jack Kelly Clark
    Photo: Ceanothus sp., by Jack Kelly Clark
    The fall is a good time to add shrubs to your yard. They are perennial and most require little maintenance. California natives are particularly low-maintenance plants. If they go in the ground now, the new plants will have time to establish strong root systems and soak up the winter rains before being stressed with the strong summer sun. All plants need special care until they are well established. After a year or two they can better handle the dry heat and probably less regular water. When choosing a plant, the most important considerations are the conditions of the site (soil, sun, wind, moisture) and the purpose of the plant (beauty, shade, privacy, food.) Then make sure you know the eventual size of the plant (width first, then height) to make sure there is adequate space for it. That helps narrow down your selection, and then you can choose whatever looks or smells pretty to you or to whatever you might be trying to attract to your garden.
     
     
    - October
  • Camellias -

    Camellia japonica ´Professor Charles S. Sargent’, by Barbara H. Smith, Clemson Extension
    Camellias can be planted in fall through spring. Since they bloom in winter, choosing a plant now will ensure that you know the color, shape, and size of the flowers with which you will live for many years. Camellias are not native to our area so may need some extra attention in order to grow successfully. Our native clay soil does not drain well so it must be amended for camellias. Our alkaline soil needs to be acidified, and sulfur pellets are one way to achieve this. The plants need some shade and need to be kept moist. Mulch helps hold in moisture, and pine needles, redwood bark, and coffee grounds are all good organic materials that will break down over time and help improve the soil. Pick up flowers as soon as they fall to the ground to avoid the spreading of a disease called Camellia petal blight. 

    More information: Camellia Pests

    - January, February, March, April, May, September, October, November, December
  • Native Wildflowers -

    Nemophila menziesii, Baby Blue Eyes, UC, by Jack Kelly Clark
    Wildflowers aren’t just for meadows; they can provide a pop of color for a small space like a border or parking strip or driveway strip. If you are participating in the “lose the lawn” movement and planting California natives or other drought-resistant plants, you know that it takes a little while for the new plants to grow; wildflowers are a nice way to fill in that space for the first couple years. The best time to plant wildflower seeds is in mid-autumn during the earliest rainy season. Wildflowers most prefer full sun and they naturally grow well in our soil and climate, so they need very little care. Choose colors and forms you like, or use a wildflower blend for more variety. If allowed to go to seed, they will self-propagate for years to come

    More information: California Native Wildflowers

    - September, October
  • Planting Berries -

    Berries including blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and some strawberries can be planted in the fall through early spring. When purchasing blackberries and raspberries, it is best to get plants that are certified disease-free from a nursery. Most berries prefer deep, well-drained, loamy soil with a slightly acidic pH (5.5-6.5). Bare-root plants can be planted in the fall, winter and early spring. Potted green plants can be planted any time they are available in the nursery. A northern sun exposure is best.

    - October
  • Planting Bulbs -

    Freesia flowers
    Freesia flowers
    Bulbs that bloom in the spring are planted into the ground in the fall. These include those that are technically corms, rhizomes, tubers, or tuberous roots in addition to true bulbs. Examples are babiana, crocus, daffodils, freesia, hyacinths, iris, ixia, sparaxis, and tulips. They can go into the ground in groups, into pots, or be tucked in amongst other plants. They need to be in a place that doesn’t stay wet because they will rot with too much water. It is important that the soil has good drainage. They flower best in full sun or filtered shade. 

    Be sure to plant them with the pointy side up because new growth will come from that point. A rule of thumb is to plant them twice as deep as the diameter of the bulb, but follow instructions for the specific flowers. Water them in at planting time.

    More Information: Bulb Planting Schedule 

    - September, October, November
  • Herbs -
    Many herbs can be grown both indoors and out, in pots or in the ground. Rosemary grows large and needs to be in the ground or a big pot. If you use basil to make pesto, you may want a row of it in the garden. Yet most herbs tend to be used in small quantities for seasoning and so they can be grown in small containers. They can be on the kitchen counter or a windowsill for ease of use in cooking. They can be on a patio if you are in an apartment or condo. And they are well suited to container gardening outdoors. Woody herbs can be grown from cuttings, lemongrass can be started from stalks from the store, and most others can be started from seed. After harvesting, many can be dried as well as used fresh.
     
    More Information: Growing Herbs
     
    - March, April, May, September, October
  • Seed Viability -
    Seed packets have a “packed for” date on the back. Yet seeds can still be viable for years beyond that date if stored correctly. Ideal storage conditions are cool and dry. The older the seeds are, the lower the germination rate will be. So plant more of the older seeds than the number of plants you ultimately want. You can do a germination test by putting seeds on a damp paper towel and enclosing them in plastic to keep them uniformly moist. Do this right before planting time so you can transplant the ones that successfully germinate. Or you can take your chances and just plant them directly and see what comes up. If you are saving your own seeds, make sure to choose seeds from the healthiest plants.
     
    Whenever it's hard to find flower seedlings, if you have some old flower seed packets, you can scatter the seeds randomly in a section of your yard and enjoy whatever flowers.
     
    More Information: Vegetable Seed Viability
     
    - January, February, March, April, May, August, September, October
  • Cover Crops -

    Fava beans growing at our McClellan Ranch project
    Fava beans growing at our McClellan Ranch project
    You may want to rest in the winter, but the soil life needs to remain active and protected and preferably weed-free. If you’re not planting vegetables or ornamentals in an area for a few months, try plants designed to feed the soil and the organisms that live in it. Cover crops are ideal for putting nutrients back into your soil and keeping weed growth to a minimum. Fava beans are the most popular cover crop in this area and can be seen in abundance in community gardens. Other common crops are clover, vetch, and bell beans. Different cover crops provide a variety of benefits. Beans and other members of the legume family fix nitrogen from the air and make it available in the soil and to plants. The roots also break up heavy clay soil and improve its structure. While fava beans are edible, they provide the most nitrogen to the soil if they are cut up and dug in while they are still in the flowering stage. 

    More Information: Choosing and Using Cover Crops

    - September, October
  • Going Native -

    Native shrubs, trees, and flowers are well-adapted to our climate and soil, and support native butterflies and bees and other wildlife. They are drought-tolerant once they are established, but need adequate water for the first year or two to establish a strong root system that will help nourish the plant for years to come. Planting them in the fall gives them time to settle in before being hit by the heat of the summer sun. Consult Water Wise Plants and the California Native Plant Society for more information.

    - October, November
  • Vegetable Planting Chart -
    Wondering what vegetables can be planted now? To get the best success—whether planting from seed or transplants—refer to our Santa Clara County Vegetable Planting Chart. It's based on our own garden experiences.
     
    - February, March, May, June, July, August, October, Any month
  • Planting Ornamentals -
    California Native flowers, by Ola Lundin, UC
    California Native flowers, by Ola Lundin, UC
    Spring is when thoughts turn to planting, yet fall is an excellent time to plant perennials. You can plant many trees, shrubs, and other long-lasting plants in the fall. This applies particularly well to California native plants. Putting them in now will give them a chance to start developing strong root systems with the winter rains before they are stressed by summer heat. Make sure to water new plantings regularly until they have established good root systems and can survive with less supplemental water.
     
    When choosing plants, consider our general Mediterranean climate as well as the microclimate of your yard. Local California natives in particular need little to no amending of the soil because they have evolved in our clay soils. Sun times, water needs, wind exposure, and soil type can all impact the success of a plant. Make sure you know how large the plant will become, even if it looks fine now in a one-gallon or five-gallon container.
     
    More Information: Mediterranean Plant List
     
    - September, October, November
  • Attracting Bees -

    Bees are pollination workhorses, increasing garden production. Many plants will not produce fruit unless flowers are pollinated. Colorful annuals, such as Cosmos, edible African Blue Basil, and Salvias attract bees. You can also allow herbs and other plants to flower to create bee-friendly landscapes.

    The University of California at Davis has a garden dedicated to bees. The Honey Bee Haven website has more resources, including a list of plants they grow.

    - March, April, May, June, September, October
  • Cool-Season Vegetables -

    cool season leafy vegetables
    Cool-season vegetables include many greens (spinach, arugula, cabbage, collards), root vegetables (carrots, beets, radishes, turnips), and cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi). Cilantro and peas also do well in the fall when it is a little cooler. 

    If your summer vegetables are still going strong, you can start seeds in August in pots and transplant them later when you remove your summer crops. You can direct seed them on the ground if you have the space. The soil should still be warm enough for seeds to germinate. If buying transplants from a nursery, you can wait until September. In Santa Clara County, many of the cool-season crops that are planted in September or October can be planted again in February and March. You can get in another crop before it's time to put summer vegetables in the ground. 

    A big advantage of cool-season vegetables is that they need less supplemental water due to lower temperatures, fewer daylight hours, and rain.  There are also fewer pest problems in the winter. Cool-season vegetables grow well in temperatures ranging from 55°F to 75°F, at locations with 6-8 hours daily of sun.

    If starting from seed, follow package instructions or plant them about two times as deep as the seed is wide. Leave space between seeds to account for the eventual size of the plant. Keep the seeds moist until they germinate, then gradually reduce the watering frequency as they grow. 

    More Information: Vegetable Planting Chart

    - February, March, August, September, October
  • Tree help -

    The city of San Jose has multiple resources for the home gardener. See their webpage on tree care. Oak trees (valley, live, blue), big leaf maples, and buckeyes are great choices for our region. The SelecTree: A Tree Selection Guide from CalPoly can help with selecting the right tree for the right place in your landscape. And you can apply for stewardship of one or more trees for 3-5 years at Our City Forest.

    - September, October, Any month
  • Arboretum All-Stars -

    Arboretum All Stars logoThis is the best tool for landscape planning available to Northern California gardeners! The UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars are plants found to be especially successful in California. The website covers essential planting basics for landscape planning, including easy-to-grow plants with low-water needs, fewer pest problems, and other outstanding qualities. As an added bonus, most are California natives that attract beneficial wildlife.

    - April, October, Any month
  • Asian Vegetables -
    You can easily grow some vegetables used in different types of Asian cuisine and found in Asian markets. They are not necessarily native to Asia but have found their way into various cuisines. One way to decide which food to grow yourself is to choose varieties that aren't readily available or are more expensive in your local markets. It’s also fun to impress your family, friends, and neighbors with something they may not have seen growing before. Possibilities include sesame seeds, bitter melon, opo, sigua (loofah) in summer and bok choy, napa cabbage, daikon radishes, gai choy in spring or winter.
     
    More Information: Vegetable planting chart in EnglishChinese
     
    - February, March, April, May, June, September, October
  • Plant Garlic & Shallots -

    The time to plant most garlic and shallots is mid-October through the end of November. Fast-growing Dutch Red shallots can mature in just 90 days, so can be planted again in late winter or early spring. Specialty growers guarantee disease-free stock and offer many more garlic varieties than you see at the grocery store, from beefy Chopaka Mountain to beautiful Rose de Lautrec.

    Choose the largest cloves and leave the natural papery wrappers on them. Plant them in moist, well-drained soil in a sunny location with the pointy tips up, about one inch deep. Space cloves about four inches apart to leave room for large heads to develop.

    More information: How to Grow Garlic | How to Grow Shallots

    - February, March, October, November

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