Start of the Gardening Season

Start of the Gardening Season

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.

California Desert Tortoise
Here is the one family member that is sad to see the hot days of August and September gone. Tiger Lily, our 9 year old California Desert Tortoise, emerges from the thornless Triple Crown Blackberry plant with blackberry juice covering her mouth. She enjoys much of the abundance of summer fruit in the yard.

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.

One of the clumps of Princess Daniela Yellow Alstromeria I moved last year in front of the roses. It is sad looking this time of year, but it is still flowering, even after a hot summer with little to no water. I love this plant.

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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

3 thoughts on “Start of the Gardening Season

  1. Loved your blog post. That’s a great photo of your tortoise with blackberry juice all over his/her face. A true testament to your blackberry growing skills I’m sure ๐Ÿ™‚ I miss this time of year in So. California. My hubby and I would make our annual trip to Roger’s Gardens or Green Thumb nursery and purchase a number of bulbs. I haven’t tried growing spring bulbs or irises here in the desert yet, but I know folks who have had great success. I’ve seen a number of gardens with bearded irises growing and roses do well here also.

    1. Thanks you!

      I bet the bearded irises are beautiful out your way since most of them love dry summer conditions. Where is Green Thumb Nursery? I haven’t been to that one.

      1. Hi Lianne! Green Thumb Nursery is in Lake Forest off of El Toro Road (just off the 5 fwy). It’s been about 9 years since I’ve been there, but they had very knowledgeable folks working there, seminars and quality stock. They used to do an awesome Christmas setup.

        Just read your iris post – awesome pics! I would love to try my hand at growing some ๐Ÿ™‚

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