Fall and Winter gardening

If you are a member of the Butte County Farm Bureau than you are familiar with the regular UCCE Master Garden Column by Bill Parish in each issue of the BCFB Farm News. We’re sharing the September/October Column with all you this month. If you’d like to me a member please call the BCFB office at 530-533-1473 or visit www.joinfb.com.

Although the arrival of cooler fall temperatures is a blessing to most, it also signifies the conclusion of the generous summer garden. But the beauty and bounty of a winter garden must not be dismissed.  For an eye-catching winter display, consider planting a vibrant border of leafy greens, such as rainbow chard, red leaf lettuce, or blue curled scotch kale.  Edible flowers, such as pansies or calendulas, planted amongst the vegetables will offer splashes of color throughout the season.


*The following is intended as a rough guide toensure success in the garden and, therefore, fresh food on the table!  Please be aware that planting and harvest dates may vary, depending on location.  For more information visit the Master Gardener website at http://ucanr.edu/sites/bcmg/.



Transplant broccoli and cauliflower through mid-September.  Swiss chard, radishes, kale, parsley, and cilantro can be transplanted through late September.

Direct-sow or transplant lettuce every couple of weeks for a continual harvest.

Plant garlic and shallot seeds through October. Hardneck garlic comes in a wide variety of complex flavors; Softneck has a milder flavor and tends to store better than hardneck.

Direct-seed or transplant spinach.


Enjoy the bounty of summer: tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, Swiss chard, eggplant, green beans, summer and winter squash, peppers, corn, and melons are all available to harvest.

September marks the culmination of most summer fruits, such as peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, pluots, and apriums.

Apples, pears, pomegranates, persimmons, olives, kiwis, grapes, and figs will be available at least through October.


Remove and compost any exhausted summer vegetable plants.  Diseased plants should be thrown in the garbage to avoid passing along unwanted pathogens.

Add fully-decomposed compost to the garden in order to provide nutrients and improve soil structure.

If cabbage loopers, aphids, white flies or other pests have been a problem in the past, try using row covers in order to protect the crop.

Protect grapes from hungry birds by draping them with bird netting, or something similar.  Hanging mylar strips or old CDs may work, as well.

Hand¬-pick caterpillars, snails, and slugs off crops.




Continue planting radishes, lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and garlic.

Direct-sow snow and snap peas from late October through mid-November for an early spring harvest.

Consider planting a nitrogen-fixing cover crop, such as fava beans, to help improve the soil.  Don’t forget to plant a few to harvest, as well!

Onion seeds can be direct-sown through mid-November.  Short- and neutral-day types will perform the best in our northern region.


Depending on the weather, some of the summer crops may still be producing harvestable crops.  Otherwise, carrots, Swiss chard, and lettuce will be the main producers.

Apples, pears, pomegranates, persimmons, olives, kiwis, grapes, and figs are available.


The brown marmorated stink bug, a serious pest of fruits and vegetables, will likely be moving indoors looking for a warm place to spend the winter.  Exclude them by making sure all cracks are sealed and doors are tight.

Of Note: 

One of the most common mistakes in fall gardening is over-watering.  As the temperatures decrease, so do the water needs of each plant.  Adjusting irrigation according to weather will not only keep crops healthy and happy, but will aid in the conservation of water.

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