Yes, you read that right: October is the start of the gardening season for those of us gardeners that happen to live in Southern California’s year round growing climate. For me personally, October is probably my busiest month for working in the garden. The scorching heat of summer and lack of rainfall make August and September the end of our local gardening season, with very few garden chores, other than things like dividing bearded irises. But by September, the last of the grapes have been harvested, the tomatoes are done, and the fall Baba raspberries have yet to start coming in. That means it is time to prep for spring and cool season vegetables.
I look forward every year to the cooler days of October and the garden chores related to cool season veggies and planning ahead for spring perennial bloom. This past weekend, I worked on a bunch of long over due yard chores including deadheading the Asters and Gaillardias, pulling weeds, dividing some of the Alstromerias, and potting up some new bearded iris rhizomes I recently acquired. This time of year is when I do the majority of bulb planting, front flower bed clean up, and dividing and transplanting the drought tolerant perennials around the yard.
I have one clump of pale yellow alstromerias, “Princess Daniela,” that has grown from one little one gallon size clump about 7 years ago to a patch at least 4′ x 4.’ I have moved little sections around the yard before, but it definitely needs a serious dividing this year. It is one of my favorite Alstromerias because it flowers almost year round, stays under 12 to 14 inches tall, makes a good cut flower for arrangements, doesn’t mind our watering restrictions, and grows in full sun or partial shade. Even now, it still has some blooms, albeit it is not very pretty at the moment. Unfortunately, it is patented, and I don’t get to share any of the divisions with fellow gardeners for another 6 years, when the patent finally expires.
This week, I plan to get the veggie garden ready to make room for some of my favorite veggies: lettuces, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, snap peas, and snow peas. The best time to start winter veggies from seed in SoCal is August up until early fall. Unfortunately, I missed the window this year for the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Had I been planning ahead, I could have had some interesting heirloom varieties and saved a little money. Instead I will settle for common varieties in 6 packs from my favorite local nursery, H & H in Lakewood. In past years, H & H has actually sold some interesting varieties like Romansco broccoli, Golden and Purple Cauliflower, and Purple Cabbage. Fortunately, I just got one of my favorite birthday gifts…a gift card to H & H. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
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