October

What to do in your Southern California garden in October
Nan Sterman

Plant

Add native shrubs, such as California wild lilac (Ceanothus), lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia), and manzanita (Arctostaphylos), to your garden.

For a late-winter or early-spring harvest, plant seed potatoes this month or early next. Many types are available from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply.

Plant seedlings of beans, broccoli, kohlrabi, and peas; sow seeds of arugula, beets, carrots, lettuce, radishes, and spinach.

Grow native monkey flower. Orange bush monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus) and red monkey flower (M. puniceus) ​are sun-loving, drought-tolerant chaparral natives. Golden monkey flower (M. guttatus) prefers moist conditions and a bit of shade inland.

Try grasslike Lomandra, an Australian native. All varieties have deep roots capable of stabilizing sand dunes, making them perfect for erosion control. Mounding L. longifolia ‘Breeze’ has bright green foliage that reaches 2 to 3 feet tall, while blue-green L. longifolia ‘Nyalla’ reaches 1 to 4 feet tall. All types sway beautifully in a breeze.

Maintain

As the weather cools, add days between watering, but always irrigate for the same number of minutes.

Clean up the end of the season’s fallen fruits to keep pests out of the garden.

Divide overgrown clumps of native Douglas iris. Carefully separate the rhizomes (they look like little jointed potatoes) and replant. They’ll bloom again in spring.

Separate agave pups from mother plants once they have ​a few roots. Pot them in a sandy, well-draining potting mix, and water once to settle. Wait until they root (tug gently to check) ​to water them again.

Deadhead summer bloomers such as blanket flower, Mexican hat, and naked lady to encourage more blooms.

Protect

Keep cabbage moths away from cole crops by covering broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower with floating row cover.

Check deep in the foliage of New Zealand flax for white mealy bugs. Blast with a sharp stream of water, or spray with insecticidal soap.