Start Your Fall California Garden in September

September is the time to plant cool weather vegetables and flowers as well as perform fall maintenance around the yard.

Plant Cool Season Vegetables: Plant such vegetables as broccoli, peas, kale, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, radish, carrots and celery. These plants will start producing in late winter or early spring. Plant onions and garlic too.

Add Bulbs: Some bulbs can go into the ground now while others need at least six weeks of cold storage (in a paper bag in the refrigerator) before planting. Ask your local nursery what to buy and plant in your area. Bulbs will begin to grow and bloom in spring. If you don't want to go to the trouble of refrigerating bulbs, plant these varieties: amaryllis, calla lily, dutch iris, freesia and watsonia. They can be left in the ground throughout the year.

Plant Flowers That Bloom In Fall And Winter: While the weather remains warm, plant flowers that bloom in fall through most of winter. These include chrysanthemums, sweet peas, ornamental cabbage, snapdragon, pansy, primrose and asters. Add mulch to the garden to hold in moisture.

Stay On Fire Alert: Since fire season is year round, winds and low humidity can easily fan brush fires in fire-prone areas. Be sure to clear weeds and brush around houses and keep landscaping near buildings well watered.

Reseed Lawn: It's time to address the bare spots in your lawn. First, loosen the soil, add a substantial layer of cool-season grass seed and then apply a compost top dressing. Water thoroughly daily until the seeds become 1-inch blades of grass.

Clip Roses: Remove dead flowers and rose hips. Lightly prune. New flowers should continue to bloom through October.

Divide Perennials: Perennials such as Shasta daisies, sage, lavender and yarrow need to be divided every few years. If you don't, they can turn brown and die in their middle. They will also produce fewer flowers. Divide during cool weather. Dig deep to pull out a clump of roots, separate the individual "crowns" or stalks and replant in soil containing flower planting mix.

Keep Watering: September and October can be hot, dry and windy months. Water gardens, shrubs and lawns as needed. Water in the early hours (between 6:00 am and 9:00 am). This is the most efficient time to water. Plants watered in the evening instead of in the morning are susceptible to fungus.

Remove Spent Vegetables and Flowers : Summer annuals are nearing their end of productivity. Remove these plants from your garden. At this point, they just attract bugs and rodents.

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