Santa Clara County Horizontal UCCE logo
October Tips & Events for Santa Clara County
“Fall is not the end of the gardening year; it is the start of next year's growing season.” — Thalassa Cruso
Fall Cleanup
There are quite a few tasks to do at the end of the summer garden season, and decisions to make about what to do with the remains. Pick up any fallen or rotting fruits and vegetables so as not to attract critters. It’s particularly important to remove dried-up fruit “mummies” so that the fungal spores don’t spread. Also remove dead or dying plants so as not to harbor pests and diseases. You can leave healthy fallen leaves in place to form a mulch and decompose naturally, or you can rake them up and add them to the compost pile with other disease-free plant material. Diseased material is best left at the curb for pickup. You may want to take notes on what did and did not do well in this season’s garden, for future reference.

More Information: Reduce Garden Waste

Photo: Peach fruit mummy producing brown rot spores, by Jack Kelly Clark
Winter Soil Health
If you are not growing anything special in your vegetable and flower beds, now is a good time to build up the soil health in anticipation of spring planting. Ground that is left bare is subject to soil erosion and you may lose organic matter that tends to be closer to the surface. Covering it with an organic mulch will soften the blows of raindrops and the mulch will slowly decompose and enrich the soil below. Fresh manure can be put on the surface and will work into the soil through rain and earthworms. Compost spread on top will also feed the soil and beneficial soil organisms. Cover crops like fava beans and vetch will protect the soil and add nitrogen, an essential nutrient for plants. And take care not to walk on wet soil so as not to compact it.

More Information: Soil Health

Photo: Earthworms are a good indicator of a healthy soil, by Jack Kelly Clark
Lawn Care
With shorter days, cooler temperatures, and a lower UV index, lawns will be less thirsty. Adjust the sprinklers now and monthly to water less as the winter rains kick in. If we have a rainy winter, you can shut off the sprinklers completely until spring. Dethatching the lawn now with a special thatching rake is also a good idea. This removes dead material and allows water to reach the roots more easily. Finally, consider fertilizing your lawn for the last time this year, following label directions for application.

Photo: Thatching rake, by Steven E. Lock
Don't Fertilize Now
Except for cool season vegetables and lawns, most plants will be dormant or growing very slowly during this time of year. Fertilizing is most beneficial when plants are actively growing or developing fruit or flowers. Even citrus which ripens during the winter is best fertilized for the last time of the year before October 1. Some California native plants are active in the winter, but they evolved in our native soil and generally do not need supplemental fertilization. Fertilizing plants now will create tender new growth right before the risk of frost. Some nutrients cannot be taken up efficiently by plants during cold weather. The excess can leach into the groundwater or run off and reach the bay. Ultimately, using unneeded additives is a waste of resources and money.

More Information: Dormant Season

Photo: Damage caused by excess fertilizer, by Ari Harivandi
Edible Experiments
The cool season is a good time to try something new in your vegetable garden, or even to plant a winter garden for the first time. You won’t need to spend nearly as much time weeding, watering, or harvesting promptly, so there’s less investment of time and work. There’s still time to put in vegetables and herbs, especially if you start with transplants. Have you tried fennel ? It’s beautiful and it smells like anise. How about growing your own chives for sprinkling on baked potatoes? Might turnips taste better to you as an adult than they did when you were a child? Speaking of children, radishes give very quick results for someone who is just learning about gardening. And then there’s kohlrabi which looks like it came from outer space.

More Information: Vegetable Planting Chart

Photo: Fennel leaf, by Jack Kelly Clark
Fall Garden Market 2018
Fall Garden Market coming very soon
Our annual Fall Garden Market is scheduled for Saturday, October 5, 10:00-3:00 at Martial Cottle Park in San Jose. Our volunteers are out there every day seeding, watering, and monitoring thousands of plants. These include cool season vegetables, herbs, flowers, succulents, California natives, and other ornamentals. We have chosen varieties that are well adapted to our area/delicious/pretty. Come check out our selection and take home plants that are ready to put in your own garden. We will also have mini-workshops and information booths to help you succeed. Take a garden tour for inspiration. Proceeds from the sale help support the classes and events , help desk , and demonstration gardens available to the public throughout the year. As a bonus, we’ll watch your plants while you participate in the Fall Festival going on throughout the park that day.

More Information: Fall Garden Market Vegetables

Photo: Fall Garden Market 2018, by Hank Morales
Visit or subscribe to our blog  for longer articles on seasonal topics
Library presentation by Tuan Hoang
Upcoming Events
We offer 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 ).

Wed, Oct 02, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m., Flowers and Herbs for Your Winter/Fall Garden , Gilroy Library, 350 W. 6th St., Gilroy

Sat, Oct 05, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Open House - Palo Alto Demonstration Garden , 851 Center Dr, Palo Alto

Sat, Oct 05, 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., Fall Garden Market - Martial Cottle Park , 5283 Snell Ave, San Jose

Thu, Oct 10, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m., Urban Permaculture , Gilroy Grange Hall, 8191 Swanton Lane, Gilroy

Sat, Oct 12, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Fall Plant Sale - South County , Guglielmo Winery, 1480 E Main Ave, Morgan Hill

Sat, Oct 12, 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., Seed Day 2019 , Rancho Rinconada Park and Recreation District, 18000 Chelmsford Drive, Cupertino

Sat, Oct 12, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Open House - Palo Alto Demonstration Garden , 851 Center Dr, Palo Alto

Tue, Oct 15, 7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m., Beauty and Abundance: Year-Round Fruit from the Home Garden , Palo Alto High School, Rm 1702, 50 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto

Thu, Oct 17, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m., Garlic: Cultivation and Care , Palo Alto Rinconada Library, 1213 Newell Rd., Palo Alto

Sat, Oct 19, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Open House - Palo Alto Demonstration Garden , 851 Center Dr, Palo Alto

Sat, Oct 19, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Getting Started with Fruit Trees , Martial Cottle Park, 5283 Snell Ave, San Jose

Sat, Oct 19, 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Growing Onions, Scallions, Garlic, Shallots, Leeks and Chives , Berryessa Public Library, 3355 Noble Ave, San Jose

Sun, Oct 20, 10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m., Going Native in the Garden , Eddie Souza Community Garden, 2380 Monroe Street, Santa Clara

Mon, Oct 21, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m., Growing Native Plants in Containers , Morgan Hill Library, 60 West Main Ave, Morgan Hill

Tue, Oct 22, 6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m., Getting Started with Bonsai , Central Park Library, 2635 Homestead Road, Santa Clara

Wed, Oct 23, 6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m., Culinary Herbs , Calabazas Branch Library, 1230 S Blaney Ave, San Jose

Sat, Oct 26, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Open House - Palo Alto Demonstration Garden , 851 Center Dr, Palo Alto

Mon, Oct 28, 7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m., Fruit Tree Care: Stone Fruit, Apples, and Pears ($55), Vallco Main Campus, Room 2, 10123 N. Wolfe Road, Suite 2085, Cupertino

Wed, Oct 30, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m., Growing Container Microgreens at Home , Los Altos Library, 13 S, San Antonio Rd, Orchard Room, Los Altos

Tue, Nov 05, 7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m., Blueberries in Abundance , Saratoga Public Library, 13650 Saratoga Ave, Saratoga

Sat, Nov 09, 10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m., Composting with Worms , The Forge Garden, 1051 Sherman Street, Santa Clara
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 Help Desk (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.