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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Sept. 2013 To-Do List: Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

Susan Wells

cherry tomatoesIf you are planning to grow vines up a trellis next to the side of a house, install the trellis 1 foot from the structure. This allows breathing room for both the structure and the vines, plus allows the overhanging roof’s runoff to water the vines. Continue to tend the compost pile by balancing your additions of green and brown material.  


  • Fertilize strawberries.
  • Select edible cover crops.
  • When planning the fall and winter garden, heavy feeders should be followed with light feeders.
  • Heavy feeders include beets, broccoli, cabbages, celery, collards, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, endive, escarole, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, okra, parsley, pumpkins, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, squash and tomatoes.
  • Lighter feeders include carrots, chard, garlic, leeks, mustard, onions, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, rutabagas, shallots, sweet potatoes, and turnips.


  • In a narrow side yard, or small courtyard, you’ll find that low growing foundation plants (begonias, coleus and impatiens) don’t take up much space but add a great punch of color. They will do so until frost.
  • Stop feeding roses, and begin pruning.
  • Trim the foliage fans of bearded iris to about 8 inches from the rhizome. Divide clumps if they have less than an inch of soil space between individual rhizomes or if they didn’t bloom well last spring. Discard the old, leafless center sections, trim the roots of the newer ones to 2 inches long, and plant them just below the soil surface. Don’t fertilize or mulch. Water them in well after planting and once every other week until the rains take over.
  • Now is the time to purchase and plant spring bulbs. Buy what you are interested in when you see them as they sell out fast.
  • The fragrance of freesias is intoxicating. Especially fragrant cultivars of this bulb include ‘Athene’, ‘Allure’, ‘Demeter’, ‘Excelsior’, ‘Golden Wave’, ‘Mirabel’, ‘Pink Westlind’, ‘Snowdon’, and ‘Welkin’. Freesias also make great cut flowers.
  • Additional spring blooming bulbs to consider are amaryllis, anemone, brodiaea, crocus, daffodil, fritillaria, galanthus, baby gladiolus, glory-of-the-snow, grape and Dutch and wood hyacinth, Dutch iris, ixia, leucojum, lycoris, montbretia, narcissus, paperwhite, ranunculus, scilla, snowdrop, sparaxis, tigridia, triteleia, tritonia, tulip (but count on them as annuals only), dogtooth violet, watsonia, and winter aconite.


  • The needles of the mugho pine are a delicacy for the European pine sawfly. Eating only last year’s needles, they will not kill the tree. To beat the pests, remove any needles with rows of yellow eggs on them, now through winter. Larvae emerge in the spring, causing the needles where the eggs were laid to look like curled straw.
  • Feed citrus trees for the last time this calendar year.


  • Water your lawn, if you have one, deeply this month unless rains come. You can cut back on watering in October as temperatures moderate. 

Image: Shutterstock/Dimerdrol68

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