November Tips & Events for Santa Clara County
“Gardening imparts an organic perspective on the passage of time. — William Cowper
Cabbage butterfly and larva From UC sources
Cabbage Family

Aren’t those little white butterflies flitting around your garden beautiful? Well, not if you know what they are or if you have noticed corresponding holes in your collard greens. They are the adult moth stage of the cabbageworm which eats cruciferous vegetables. Included targets are kale, cabbage, broccoli, and bok choi. You can catch the moths with a butterfly net or pool skimmer before they can lay more eggs. You can hand pick the well-camouflaged one-inch-long green caterpillars or spray them with an organic product with the active ingredient of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). You can even pick off the tiny white eggs if you can find them on the undersides of the leaves.

Photos: Top – summer cabbage white butterfly in flight, from UC Bug Squad Blog, by Kathy Keatley Garvey. Bottom – imported cabbageworm larva by Jack Kelly Clark
Olive variety sample by Paul Vossen UC
Olive trees are a common ornamental plant in our area, and can also be grown for their fruit. They thrive in our area because they are originally from the Mediterranean, and we are in one of the six recognized Mediterranean climates in the world. If you are growing them for the fruit, keep an eye out for the now common Olive Fruit Fly and promptly remove any fallen or damaged fruit. Olive trees need very little if any supplemental water once established. They can be pruned for aesthetic purposes or for ease of picking fruit. November is harvest time. A fruitless variety that is also pollen-free is Swan Hill. UC Davis has an Olive Center where they do research projects, educate growers, and sell their own olive oil to help support the program.

Photo: Olive variety sample, by Paul Vossen, UC
Jack-O-Lanterns in compost by Laura Monczynski
What do you do with the pumpkins now that Halloween is over? Well, you could go get more at a discount if you want more. You could eat them. Keep in mind that the varieties grown for carving, while edible, may not be as flavorful as those grown specifically for eating. The aptly named Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin is ideal for decorating, while cooking varieties include Sugar Pie and Cinderella. You could put the pumpkins in your compost bin. You could save some seeds for planting in the future, and toast some with perhaps a little salt and chile powder. And if you put seeds in the compost bin they may sprout on their own and can be easily transplanted into the garden next year. If you’re tempted to grow prize-winning giant pumpkins, keep in mind that they need a lot of water and a lot of space. If you’re harvesting them from your garden now, leave a few inches of stem attached and store them in a place that is cool but not below fifty degrees.

Photo by Laura Monczynski
Dividing dallies photo from Michigan Cooperative Extension
Dividing Perennials
If your clumping perennials plants are looking overcrowded or they have been producing fewer blooms, it may be time to divide them. You may want to consider doing this regularly every three years or so. First, make sure they are well-hydrated so that they can better withstand the shock of being dug up and cut up. Then dig out the entire root ball. Use a spading fork or a very sharp knife, perhaps a hori hori knife, to cut the root ball into smaller sections and replant the new sections. The precise technique varies slightly depending on whether the type of root system is spreading, clumping, or rhizomatous. Water in the new plants and cut them back. Spring blooming perennials are best to divide in fall and these include Agapanthus, Coreopsis, and Yarrow.

Dividing Perennials , Cornell Cooperative Extension
Photo: Dividing daylilies, Michigan State University Extension
Peach leaf curl symptoms
Protecting Next Year's Peaches
By the time peach leaf curl appears on your trees, it’s too late to do anything about it for the current crop. A certain amount of the disease, which is primarily expressed in puckered reddish leaves, can be tolerated. But if your tree had a bad case with significantly reduced fruit production this past season, now is the time to address it before next season. Once all the leaves have fallen, you can spray the tree with a fixed copper solution. For severe cases, you can spray a second time about a month after the first application. It is best not to spray every year unless truly needed because copper can build up in the soil and do damage to soil organisms and waterways. Another solution to this common problem is to grow a disease-resistant variety of peaches or nectarines.

Photo: Peach leaf curl, UC Statewide IPM Project, by Jack Kelly Clark
Visit or subscribe to our blog  for longer articles on seasonal topics
Upcoming Events
We offer lots of free or low-cost gardening talks, workshops, and courses all over the county, as well as hosting information tables at many community events. Please join us and bring your questions!

Sat, Nov 03, 10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.,  Succulents in the Garden , Eleanor Pardee Park, 851 Center Drive,  Palo Alto

Mon, Nov 05, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Winter Fruit Tree Care and Selection , Morgan Hill Library, 60 Main Ave,  Morgan Hill

Sat, Nov 10, 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.,  California Native Plants for your Landscape , Sunnyvale Public Library, 665 W Olive Ave,  Sunnyvale

Tue, Nov 13, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Microgreens - A Nutritious Year Round Crop! , Saratoga Library, 13650 Saratoga Ave,  Saratoga

Sat, Dec 01, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.,  Annual Wreath Making Workshop , Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, 438 Coleman Ave,  San Jose
Visit the UC Master Gardener Program website  for additional information including an up-to-date list of events and classes .

Have a gardening question? Contact our Hotline (for Santa Clara County residents). Start by reviewing our plant  problem diagnosis tips .
  • Mon-Fri 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., 408-282-3105
  • Fri ONLY 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m., 650-329-1356 (Closed Dec. & Jan.)
  • Or send us your question online

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Santa Clara County Master Gardener Program volunteers are trained under the auspices of the UCCE. Our mission is to promote sustainable gardening practices by providing up-to-date, research-based horticultural information to home gardeners.

The University of California prohibits discrimination or harassment of any person on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy (including childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth), physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer-related or genetic characteristics), ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or status as a covered veteran (covered veterans are special disabled veterans, recently separated veterans, Vietnam era veterans, or any other veterans who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized) in any of its programs or activities.

University policy is intended to be consistent with the provisions of applicable State and Federal laws.