September Tips & Events for Santa Clara County
“All gardening is landscape painting. — William Kent
Martial Cottle Park Teaching Pavilion at the 2018 Fall Market by Hank Morales
Fall Plants Available!

Join us at our Fall Garden Market! Saturday, October 6, 10:00-3:00

If you want to keep your summer garden producing for as long as possible, you can wait and start your cool season garden from transplants. The Master Gardeners have been busy starting those transplants for you. We have a variety of vegetables including peas, artichokes, kohlrabi, beets, onions, broccoli, and cabbage. Greens include pak choi, kale, radicchio, collards, spinach, and many varieties of lettuce. We will also have herbs, flowers, and other ornamental plants. The market will be part of the Martial Cottle Park Harvest Festival at the agriculturally historic Martial Cottle Park in south San Jose.  

Photo: Teaching Pavilion at 2017 Fall Market, by Hank Morales
Tomato blossom by Allen Buchinski
Tomato Blossoms
Any yellow blossoms that are appearing now on your tomatoes are best removed as soon as they start. There will not be time for them to develop into fully mature tomatoes before it starts to get cold and the tomato flesh gets mealy. Removing them will allow the plant to put its energy into the tomatoes that are already starting to form. This will give you the largest production of good edible tomatoes. And tomatoes still on the vines when you are ready to pull them out in the fall can be taken indoors to continue slowly ripening.

Photo: Allen Buchinski
Fava bean roots by Laura Monczynski
Cover Crops
If you have a section of garden where you won't be growing food or ornamentals this winter, you can plant cover crops to cover the area. Why would you want to do that? Bare soil leads to soil erosion, and without organic material there is nothing to support essential soil life. These special plants also add vital nutrients to your soil, including nitrogen. They can improve soil structure and the roots can help break up compacted soil and create more air space. Fava beans are a favorite winter choice for home and community gardeners. Cut and dig plants into the soil or put them into the compost bin when they are halfway through flowering and before they go to seed. 

Photo: Fava bean roots with nitrogen-rich nodules, by Laura Monczynski
'King Alfred' trumpet daffodil by Jack Kelly Clark
Planting Bulbs for Spring
Autumn is the time to plant bulbs that will bloom in early spring. Some favorites are daffodil, crocus, freesia, and iris. Choose bulbs that are heavy and firm with no signs of decay. Plant them in well-drained and pre-moistened soil, preferably amended with compost. Place them at a depth of about three times as deep as the bulb is wide, with the growing tip pointing up and the root scar facing down. Lightly irrigate them until the winter rains kick in and provide natural watering.

Photo: 'King Alfred' trumpet daffodils, UC, by Jack Kelly Clark
Garden  Clean Up at UC Arboretum Davis Emily Schmidt
Garden Clean-Up
Many warm season plants will be removed soon either to make room for cool season plants or simply because they are spent. Put any diseased or infested plant material out at the curb for pickup to avoid spreading pathogens or pests in your yard. Other plant material can be chopped up and put in the compost bin or spread around as mulch. Returning organic matter to the soil keeps nutrients on site and supports a healthy sustainable ecosystem. 

Tips for Reducing Garden Waste , UC Central Valley Friendly Landscaping
Photo: Garden workday at UC Davis Arboretum, by Emily Schmidt, Arboretum Edible Landscaping Blog
Fresh picked heirloom carrots from UC Repository
When most people think about carrots, they visualize an orange one. Yet the first carrots are believed to have been purple. Being able to have carrots in many colors – purple, white, yellow, red, orange - is as good a reason as any to grow your own. Carrots do best in loose soil which allows the edible taproot to grow straight and deep. An experiment by the Santa Clara County Master Gardeners found the ideal soil blend to be 1/3 native soil from the ground, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 perlite. Since carrot seeds are small, cover them with a very thin layer of soil and keep them evenly moist until germination. They can be planted now for eating during the winter. 

Photo: Freshly picked heirloom carrots, UC Photo Repository
Green Gardener Class courtesy WMS Media
Professional Gardeners
Looking for help in garden maintenance, installation, or design? You can find a list of professionals trained in environmentally friendly practices at the Watershed Watch website . A new batch of Green Gardeners will receive training with weekly classes starting September 10, Mondays in English and Wednesdays in Spanish, at the Vallco shopping center in Cupertino. Topics include soils, mulch and compost, irrigation, pruning, fertilizers, and choosing the right plants for our area. Invite your local gardeners to register using info in the Green Gardener flyer .
Photo: Green Gardener class, courtesy WMV Media
Visit or subscribe to our blog  for longer articles on seasonal topics
Class at Martial Cottle Park by Tuan Hoang
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!

Photo: Gardening class at 2018 Spring Garden Market, by Tuan Hoang

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 ).

Sat, Sep 01, 10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.,  Reduce Yard Waste with Backyard Composting , Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Dr.,  Palo Alto

Wed, Sep 05, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Choosing the Best Indoor Plants , Cupertino Community Hall, 10350 Torre Ave,  Cupertino

Sat, Sep 08, 11:00 a.m.–11:45 a.m.,  Growing Artichokes in your Garden , Martial Cottle Park, 5283 Snell Ave,  San Jose

Mon, Sep 10, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Drought Tolerant Trees- Shrubs and Perennials , Morgan Hill Library, 60 W Main Ave,  Morgan Hill

Tue, Sep 11, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Fall and Winter Vegetable Gardening , Gilroy Library, 350 W 6th St Gilroy CA 95620,  Gilroy

Sat, Sep 15, 10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.,  Low Water Lawn Alternatives , The Forge Garden - Santa Clara University, 1051 Sherman St,  Santa Clara

Sat, Sep 15, 10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.,  Succulent Designs in Containers , Martial Cottle Park, 5283 Snell Ave,  San Jose

Sat, Sep 15, 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.,  A Conversation on Growing Asian Vegetables , Sunnyvale Teaching and Demonstration Garden, 433 Charles Street,  Sunnyvale

Wed, Sep 19, 6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m.,  Growing Garlic and Onions , Calabazas Library, 1230 S Blaney Ave,  San Jose

Wed, Sep 19, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Growing California Natives , Milpitas Library, 160 North Main Street,  Milpitas

Sat, Sep 22, 9:30 a.m.–11:00 a.m.,  Planning Your Fall and Winter Vegetable Garden , St. Louise Hospital Teaching & Demo Garden, 9400 No Name Uno Way,  Gilroy

Sat, Sep 22, 1:00 p.m.–2:30 p.m.,  California Native Plants for your Landscape , Central Park Library, 2635 Homestead Rd.,  Santa Clara

Tue, Sep 25, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Top Ten Vegetables for Your Winter Garden , Campbell Library Community Room, 77 Harrison Ave,  Campbell

Wed, Sep 26, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Bulbs for a California Garden , Los Altos Public Library, 13 S. San Antonio Rd., Los Altos

Thu, Sep 27, 6:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.,  Create a Backyard Wildlife Habitat in Your Urban Garden , Willow Glen Public Library, 1157 Minnesota Ave,  San Jose

Sat, Sep 29, 10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.,  Fall Cover Crops for your Garden , Martial Cottle Park, 5283 Snell Ave,  San Jose

Starting Thu, Oct 04, 4:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.,  Beautiful Waterwise Landscaping: Three Week Course  ($51, $47 for San Jose residents, for the 3-week course. ), 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  ($6 parking at Martial Cottle Park), Martial Cottle Park, 5283 Snell Ave,  San Jose

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