October Tips & Events for Santa Clara County
“Gardening imparts an organic perspective on the passage of time. — William Cowper
Fall Garden Market

Join us for our Fall Garden Market at the Martial Cottle Park Harvest Festival on October 6, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. We will have talks by UC Master Gardeners, children’s activities, a Green Elephant sale, an “Ask a Master Gardener” booth, and hundreds of winter vegetable & flowers seedlings and succulents for sale! Arrive early for best selection.

Additional vegetable seedling sale: Saturday, October 13, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. at Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill

Photo: lettuce seedlings, by Allen Buchinski
Master Gardener Demo Garden at Berger Drive San Jose CA
Nature Knows
Nature has been successfully taking care of plants for 700 million years. We are most successful in our gardening when we mimic nature rather than fight against it. Finding out the origin of the plants you choose and trying to meet the native conditions will produce a healthier plant. Did your plant originate in the desert? Then it calls for full sun and sandy soil. Is it originally a forest understory plant? It needs shade, perhaps on the north side of your house. For us, the easiest choice is California native plants which have evolved with our local climate, local soils, and local pollinators.

Photo: Berger Native Garden, by Rebecca Schoenenberger
Fire defensible space landscaping guidelines
Fire Protection
Wildfires are a fact of life in California. A little fire may be okay if you’re a redwood tree with fire-resistant bark and with cones that need heat to release their seeds. But to protect people and homes, there are some steps we can take as gardeners, especially on property near the foothills or other vulnerable areas. Grow plants that hold moisture, clear brush and any dead plants or plant parts, and space plants so that they do not easily spread flames. 

Illustration courtesy of CALFIRE, Zone 1 30', Zone 2 30–100'
Yellow lupine and California poppies at Martial Cottle Park
Wildflower seeds planted now will start growing with the winter rains and produce blooms in late winter and early spring. Scatter them over an area and just minimally mix or cover with soil. Make sure the area is free of weeds to reduce competition for moisture and space. Some favorites are lupines, clarkia, and our official state flower, the California Poppy. They can be planted individually or as a blend. And if allowed to go to seed, they will return year after year.

More information: Planting Wildflowers
Photo: Yellow lupine and California poppies at Martial Cottle Park, by Hank Morales
Prickly pear cactus by Laura Monczynski
Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly pear cactus can be seen loaded with bright red fruit right now. Both the pads (nopales) and fruits (tunas) have a variety of culinary and medicinal uses. Take great care when harvesting the spiny plant parts: wear thick gloves and hold them with tongs while slicing off pads or twisting off fruit. The plants are easy to propagate. You can cut off a pad, let it sit for a week or two to callous over the cut, then just stick it in the ground, one inch deep, with the cut side down. They do best in sun with little if any supplemental water.

More Information: Prickly Pear Cactus Production
Photo by Laura Monczynski
Garlic by Laura Monczynski
Living in the land of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, we know that peak harvest is in July. Yet this month and next are the best times for planting pungent garlic. Choose healthy bulbs or heads of garlic and gently break them apart. Select the largest cloves; do not peel. Add compost to well-drained soil. Plant the cloves six inches apart and about an inch below the soil surface, with the pointy side up. Water them lightly until the winter rains start. You can buy garlic specifically for planting or you can take your chances with garlic from the produce section.

More information: Growing Garlic
Photo by Laura Monczynski
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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!

Palo Alto Demo Garden Open Saturdays from 10 a.m.–noon (May–Oct)
Come see what we're growing at our edible and water-wise gardens and get answers to your gardening questions. Feel free to bring plant pests or disease samples for identification. We're located at Eleanor Pardee Community Gardens, on Center Road near Martin Street, Palo Alto (v iew map ).

Tue, Oct 02, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Planning a Fall-Winter Garden for your Children , Gilroy Library, 350 W 6th St,  Gilroy

Thu, Oct 04, 4:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.,  Beautiful Waterwise Landscaping: Three Week Course  ($51, $47 for San Jose residents), Camden Community Center, 3369 Union Ave,  San Jose

Sat, Oct 06, 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.,  Fall Garden Market at Martial Cottle Park , Martial Cottle Park, 5283 Snell Ave,  San Jose

Sat, Oct 06, 10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.,  Using your senses in the garden: A kids exploratory event , Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Dr,  Palo Alto

Tue, Oct 09, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Replacing Your Lawn with Drought Tolerant and Native Plants , Gilroy Library, 350 W 6th St,  Gilroy

Sat, Oct 13, 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.,  Plant Sale at Guglielmo Winery , Guglielmo Winery, 1480 East Main Ave,  Morgan Hill

Sat, Oct 13, 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.,  Seed Day 2018 , Rancho Rinconada Pk & Rec Ctr, 18000 Chelmsford Ave,  Cupertino

Sat, Oct 13, 10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.,  Planting and Caring for Bulbs in your Garden , Martial Cottle Park, 5283 Snell Ave,  San Jose

Sat, Oct 13, 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.,  Maintenance & Sharpening of Garden Tools , Mountain View Library, 585 Franklin Street, Mountain View

Wed, Oct 17, 6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m.,  Growing Cover Crops in the Home Garden , West Valley Library, 1243 San Tomas Aquino,  San Jose

Thu, Oct 18, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.,  Plant Now! Low Water Ornamentals from Around the World , Palo Alto Public Library 1213 Newell Rd., Palo Alto

Sat, Oct 20, 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.,  Home Rainwater Collection and Rain Gardens , Martial Cottle Park, 5283 Snell Ave,  San Jose

Sat, Oct 20, 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.,  Improve Your Garden Soil: Grow a Cover Crop , Sunnyvale Teaching and Demonstration Garden, 433 Charles Street,  Sunnyvale

Wed, Oct 31, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Choosing the Best Indoor Plants , Los Altos Library, 13 S. San Antonio Rd.,  Los Altos

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

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