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GARDENING TIPS FOR SONOMA COUNTY


October 2018 Gardening Tips

www.thegardeningtutor.net - Popies and Pansies
Iceland Poppy and Pansies

OCTOBER 2018

Remember, this is “Plantapalooza” time in Sonoma County: October is the best time to plant many of our frost hardy trees, shrubs, perennials and native plants! The winter rains will help these new plantings to establish their root systems. Save springtime for planting the more frost tender plants so they have all year to become established.

TO FERTILIZE OR NOT TO FERTILIZE

    Now that the summer is drawing to a close I notice that people want to be out in their yards fertilizing all the plants. If you want to fertilize because your plants look unhealthy, check the soil first to make sure it’s not a watering problem (too much or not enough) that is making your plants look sickly. Adjusting the amount of water you apply may be better than applying a fertilizer. Applying fertilizer at this time of year is not the best practice for most plants.

    At the end of October our climate begins the six months of cool/wet weather of our Mediterranean climate here in Sonoma County; fertilizing now will encourage green growth that may not have time to mature (harden off) before damaging low temperatures and frost arrive. Our frost dates for the Sonoma County area are generally between Halloween (October 31st) and tax day (April 15th). At this time of year, your plants will be happier if you direct your energies into applying at least a 3 inch layer of mulch on top of the soil. Applying good compost as mulch will feed the soil (and therefore your plants), protect the soil from erosion, suppress weeds, and give extra protection to frost tender plants.

    Earlier in the month, you can still apply a 0-10-10 fertilizer to your Camellias, Rhododendrons, and Azaleas and other spring blooming plants to help them form healthy flower buds. Make sure the first number on the fertilizer package is “0” which means that it has no green growth stimulating nitrogen in the formula.

    Also, remember it takes time to see the results of fertilization. Over fertilizing encourages weak stems and too much growth that attracts more insects to that succulent new growth!

    Although it's time to hold back on fertilizing most of your plants, there is one exception: you can use all purpose fertilizer for your cool-season annual plants such as pansies, Iceland poppies and calendula.



    October 2018
    Gardening Checklist*
    What to SHOP for . . .
    Checkbox Annuals - Pansies and Iceland Poppies.
    Checkbox Shrubs -Spiraea japonica, Early blooming Camellias, Lavender (try Hidcote).
    Checkbox Veggies -Bok Choy, Spinach, Peas.
    Checkbox Bulbs - Freesia, Daffodils, Anemones, Ranunculus, Alliums.
       
    Tasks to do . . .
    Checkbox Bulbs - Find the best selection by shopping early in the month. Choose bulbs and tubers that are heavy for their size and blemish free. Plant in November.
    Checkbox Pansies and Iceland Poppies - These two annuals need to be planted during the first two weeks of October here in Sonoma County in order to perform well all winter. Keep them deadheaded (remove spent flowers and their stems to keep them from going to seed) to encourage them to bloom all winter long. For more about caring for Pansies watch our video: How to Choose and Care for Pansies.
    Checkbox Pest Management - To protect young veggie starts from pests use a lightweight row cover. Instead of putting the cover right on top of the plants, use something to suspend the cover over the plants and tuck in the sides. Not every veggie garden needs row cover but it's good to have choices. When planting pansies and other winter annuals bait for pests, such as snails, slugs, earwigs and sow bugs. Continue to bait throughout winter.
    Checkbox Fruit Trees - Clean up all fruit from the ground and old fruit from fruit trees. This practice helps manage pests and fungal diseases.
    Checkbox Mulch - Compost makes a great mulch for flowering plant beds. Winter annual bloomers will do much better with compost as mulch instead of bark-type mulches. This is also a good time to move bark aside and put a three inch layer of compost around shrubs and other plants in bark areas. Remember to make the compost layer very thin near the trunk. This layer of compost will feed the soil and improve plant health. After applying compost water well and cover back over with the bark.
    Checkbox Irrigation - Before applying a layer of mulch check drip irrigation for leaks and clogged lines.
    Checkbox Food for the birds - If you grew sunflowers or Amaranth this summer you can leave the flowers to go to seed for the birds. Fennel is another great seed source for our feathered friends!
       
    Free printable . . .
      Looking for a way to stay organized in your garden?
    Download this Free Printable Gardening Checklist* and you’ll be amazed how inspired you’ll feel!
    Let us know how you’re doing. You can do it!
    Remember, this printable was created as a short list of tasks with minimal information. If you would like more in-depth information,
    you can always refer back to the checklist above each month for more details.
     

    The Gardening Tutor September 2018 Printable

    *Colors may vary depending upon your computer screen and printer.


*For More Detailed Gardening Tips
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