October To Do List for Gardeners
By Rebecca Jepsen
Clean garden beds in preparation for winter. Many insects and diseases overwinter in fallen debris. Prune diseased leaves from roses, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas. But leave leaf litter under oaks, pine and junipers; the leaf duff helps protect the roots.
Add a mulch layer to existing garden beds to provided 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 of their existing size to stimulate healthy new growth in the spring.
Harvest persimmons by cutting the fruit off versus pulling, 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 feet 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 six to eight weeks of chilling time before planting (place them in the refrigerator, not the freezer). Avoid storing your bulbs near apples. Apples emit ethylene gas that can cause the bulbs to sprout prematurely.
Sow native wildflowers: Poppies, clarkias, lupines and blue-eyed Marys are easy to start from seed. Planting just before the winter rains start will prevent the need for manual watering.
What to plant now
Transplants: arugula, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, chives, fava beans, garlic, kale, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsley, peas, potatoes, spinach, Swiss chard.
Seeds: arugula, fava beans, garlic, kale, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes, spinach.
Have a question for Rebecca Jepsen and the other Master Gardeners? Call the hot line, 408-282-3105, from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, or visit the website at www.mastergardeners.org.