Happy Autumn! Today is the first day of fall and the autumnal equinox when day length and night are the same. Slowly, days will get shorter, and summer crops will become less productive, even as SoCal temperatures continue to be warm.
Why start a garden at home?
- for easy access to fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs
- to grow difficult-to-find varieties
- for health and well-being [source: NIH.gov]
- to continue to teach garden-focused lessons
- to share the love of gardening with family or friends
If you would like a refresher on home gardening in Southern California, please read our Home Gardening Virtual Workshop post. It has resources that discuss container materials, selecting a site, and more!
Fall Considerations for Home Gardening
A lot of cool weather varieties are bred for regions that have lower high temperatures than we do. When selecting seeds, we encourage you to seek out varieties that can germinate and tolerate warmer temperatures. Even though temperatures will cool down, our random heatwaves (like our 90-something degree Thanksgiving in 2017) can make plants go to seed, or “bolt.”
Some seed suppliers, like our favorite Johnny’s Select Seeds, will sometimes display optimal germination temperatures on their website, their catalog, or the seed packet itself. Of course, you can wait until temperatures are closer to optimal to plant the seeds or invest in shade cloth. Another alternative would be to start your seeds in partial shade. You can create partial shade using household items like a patio umbrella or select a location in the garden that receives morning sun and afternoon shade.
If you want to plant directly close to a deciduous tree, ensure the garden will receive sufficient daylight and that you will be able to remove leaves as they fall. You can move pots or place bird netting with hoops over raised beds during leaf-drop to minimize clean up. Make sure you remove fallen leaves as these may harbor pests and diseases.
Lastly, keep an eye on the weather. During the Santa Ana winds, you may want to find a way to anchor down smaller pots and plants or bring some indoors. Make sure to water plants to help keep soil from blowing away. You can also add mulch to help retain soil but remember to keep mulch at least 1″ away from stems.
Fall Seeds & Seedlings
Common Learning Garden crops that can be planted in September and October:
- Bok Choy
- Brussel sprouts
- Herbs: sage, thyme, rosemary, etc.
- Onion, Green
- Onion, Bulb (long-day)
For a longer list of crops, visit the University of California Cooperative Extension’s Los Angeles Gardening page.