Your Regional Garden News - Zone 10

October 1 to October 31


Discover what you should be doing right now.  Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.  

Here's what's happening in your gardening region:

You might look forward to the first days of fall because it signals the return of your favorite tv shows, football or even your favorite Halloween costume, but those all pale in comparison to the best fall activity of all: It’s gardening time, ladies and gents! Getting out in the dirt during the summer months was certainly possible, but it’s okay to admit that you were holding out for the slightly cooler evenings of fall. Those of you at the southern end of zones 9-11 might have to wait another month to feel a refreshing chill in the air, but even a merely warm night sounds downright appealing after a few months of sweltering heat. October isn’t just the beginning of comfier temperatures, it’s also the start of our cool season and the numerous flowers and vegetables that can now be planted and enjoyed. So break out the trowel, snatch up those seeds and plan out your menu for a fabulous fall gardening season.


    Plant Greens

    Salad greens are probably one of the most sorely missed elements of the garden in warm climate summers. Despite the name ‘salad greens’, lettuce and other refreshing leafy greens are a key ingredient in hamburgers, sandwiches, wraps and a host of other recipes, so you’ll be pleased to know that it’s once again time to plant them in your garden. Some greens are also great for cooking, as any southerner or foodie could tell you. Turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens are standbys in the southern kitchen; and no self-respecting chef would be caught dead without spinach, Swiss chard and kale. The great thing about leafy greens is that they’re very attractive additions to the garden and can be incorporated into front yard landscaping as well as container combinations. Use bold, architectural ones like Lacinato kale and cabbage to form striking focal points in a bed of flowers, or plant beds of colorful greens throughout your garden where you would otherwise plant annuals.


  • Plant Root Crops

    Growing vegetables is rewarding enough already, but harvests don’t get much more exciting than digging into the soil to pull up candy-colored carrots, beets, radishes and onion where once there was nothing more than a tiny seed or start. It’s true that enormous watermelons and big, juicy tomatoes are pretty thrilling, but you can easily watch them grow up until harvest while root crops are once big surprise; golden beets and carrots are buried treasure and radishes are like Easter eggs! Carrots, beets and radishes have tiny seeds that must be thinned out by removing many of the seedlings so that the remaining ones can grow without competition. These taproot forming plants also need loose, well drained soil so that they form perfectly straight roots. Onions can be started from either seeds or sets, and should also be thinned out so that they have plenty of room to grow. Whichever root crop you grow, it’s essential that you weed often to reduce competition, and do so carefully by hand so that you don’t damage or disrupt the crop.


  • Plant a Salad Bowl Garden

    Those of you who don’t have to worry about frost in winter can continue planting tomatoes and ____ for the winter garden, but everyone in our area can begin planting cool season vegetables now. If you do it just right, you can harvest months worth of cherry tomatoes, greens, onions, radishes, carrots and anything else that you can imagine in a salad. The trick is to sow seeds throughout the season so that there are always vegetables ready to harvest for the table. Don’t think you have room for an edible garden? Well, edible veggies, flowers, herbs and fruits can be grown anywhere from containers on the staircase to flowerbeds in the back yard. If salads always seemed a bit bland and boring to you, look beyond mere vegetables to other interesting flavors such as the tartness of fruits like berries and citrus; the beautiful colors of edible flowers like pansies and nasturtiums; and the savory qualities of herbs such as thyme, dill, sage and anything else you have on hand.


  • Plant Cool Season Flowers

    This is one of those rare times in which a warm-climate gardener can grow just about any flowers she wants. There is still time to plant warm season flowers to enjoy for a few months, but it’s also the best time to get a head start by planting cool season annuals from seed. These include frost-tolerant classics like pansies, dianthus, violas, alyssum, snapdragons, ornamental kale and sweet peas, all of which will stay happily in flower even during a rare cold snap. There are also some flowers that, while not considered cool-season annuals since they aren’t frost-hardy, will still thrive through mild winters. Marigolds, nasturtiums, gazania, wax begonia and dusty miller are all flowers that do well in the mixed bag of cool, warm and hot temperatures we receive from fall through early spring, but if gardeners in zone 9 plant seeds too late they might get nipped by an early frost.



    Plant an Herb Garden

    You don’t need to be a talented chef to take advantage of herbs. They attract pollinating wildlife like bees and butterflies, they impart a subtle fragrance to your garden, and lend their fine texture and evergreen leaves to the landscape. If you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen, add them to just about anything that sounds good at the time; from salads to meats, and beverages to sautés. Not particularly proud of your cooking skills? You can even sprinkle a little bit of oregano and basil on your frozen pizza and ramen noodles for instant gourmet cuisine. Even a simple cup of hot water can be livened up with the addition of a few sprigs of thyme, lemongrass or mint! To keep your herbs on display until it’s time to cook, bring them indoors for little cut ‘flower’ arrangements or hang dried herbs in your home for homegrown potpourri. In the garden, try planting herbs like thyme along paths and patios where a gentle brush or accidental step will release their fragrance to delight visitors and more importantly, yourself. While most herbs love the cooler months, many will continue to flourish (or at least hold on) when the heat returns in spring.

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • Today is the shortest day of the year. From this day, we gardeners watch with great anticipation as the hours of daylight ever so slowly increase. It is only a matter of time before we will be planting a new garden! The holdiays are a great time to settle back and curl up with favorite gardening books and the new Burpee Catalog. In addition to being packed full of traditional favorites, many new flowers and vegetables are included. Also look for the accessory section guaranteed to make your gardening even more enjoyable. To order a free copy call 1-800-888-1447.