A garden is a never ending project with cycles of growth, die off and rebirth overlapping each season. We’re lucky in the Bay Area, with our mild winters that allow us to still plant and harvest year round, but things do slow down this time of year, the nights get cooler and the days don’t fully warm up – there’s much less sun and not enough hours of light for all those summer flowers and fruits we love so much. Fall is the perfect time to clean up, let some of your yard or beds to fallow and rest while the earth does the same. Here’s our guide on how to prep your garden for winter.
WHAT TO CLEAN UP AND WHAT TO PLANT
- Late summer and fall veggies and flowers will still need your attention through the end of the month. As the temps consistently get on down into the low 40s and high 30s at night, you’ll want to start cutting back the last of your fall bounty that’s no longer growing or blooming for you. If you’ve got a compost pile, toss everything in there
- Now is the time to clean up all leaf clutter and other fall and summer debris that may be in your garden. During the wet, cold months, they can harbor pests, mold and disease.
- This is a great time to plant leafy greens, root veggies, perennials and bulbs!
- Let’s not forget annuals! Plant in the ground or keep in pots on your porches or decks or in the garden.
- Bulbs want to go in the ground now through December: daffodils, hyacinths, tulips.
- Garlic, shallots and onions may come up if we get a warm winter, or they may not be ready to harvest until spring or summer. Either way, plant them now for great results.
- Now is the time to cut back perennials like lavender and sage.
- Divide perennials like hostas, daylilies and peonies – it’s also a good time to plant new ones.
- Shrubs and trees can also go into the ground now.
- If you’re going to leave some beds fallow, plant cover crops like fava beans.
- Compost! All that debris you’re clearing up can go straight into your compost pile and your garden will thank you next year.
- Winter is time for rest, so fertilizers can be put in the shed until spring.
PRO TIPS ON PREPPING AND PLANTING
Contra Costa Master Gardener, Janet Miller, shared more specific tips for preparing your beds for winter crops as reported in an article for The Mercury News in September, 2021.
- “Before planting anything, Miller says, prepare your beds. She recommends cutting down your summer plants at the base, leaving the root bulb and roots in the ground. Chop the other material into small pieces and scatter them over the bed to compost in place. Loosen the soil down to 12 or 18 inches with a broad fork or garden fork, then top with a layer of fresh soil or compost.
- *September-October: Remove eggplant and peppers; plant leafy greens such as lettuce, arugula, spinach, radishes, bok choy, garlic and leeks.
- October-November: Remove tomatoes; plant cover crops such as fava beans, cow peas, field peas and phacelia. It’s important that you don’t leave beds empty. A lot of microbial life is in the soil and it needs the plants to survive and make your beds more fertile for next garden season.
- November-December: Remove spent broccoli and cauliflower; plant fava beans.”
*We left in the September and October planting recommendations as we’ve had such an extended warm season this year.
A NOTE ON COVER CROPS
You might have noticed that both of our sources recommend planting fava beans as a cover crop in beds that would otherwise lay fallow for the winter. If that still makes you think of Silence of the Lambs, we get it. Just focus on how pretty the plants are.
WE SOURCE LOCALLY
Hassett Hardware sources 99% of our plants locally from nurseries up and down the state:
- Suncrest Nursery, Watsonville
- Hollandia, Modesto
- Soquel Nursery Growers, Soquel
- Cal Color, Morgan hill
- Sweetwater, Sebastopol for our organic options
- Menlo Growers, Gilroy
- Fisher Nursery, Ripon foo our indoor plants
ORGANIC SOILS AND FERTILIZERS
We also get over 50% of our soils and most of our fertilizers from one of our favorite organic suppliers, EB Stone and Son’s over in Suisun City just east of Napa.
We have local garden experts at both of our garden centers in Half Moon Bay for the Coastside climate and in Redwood City for the Peninsula’s micro climates. Call, text or come in for advice and we’ll take care of you.
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