One of the most important activities is cleaning up from this year’s harvest.
Collect fallen fruit for the compost bin — left on the ground, decaying fruit will breed disease and attract and provide food for earwigs, snails, slugs and other undesirable critters.
Remove dead or dying summer annuals and vegetables, then till in about a cubic yard of compost for every 300 square feet of garden space, giving the soil the best start for next year’s plants.
Fall is also the perfect time to aerate or dethatch the lawn. Call a rental company to reserve any equipment you might need, to make sure it is available when you want it. Now is also a great time to fertilize the lawn with a complete, slow-release fertilizer.
Buy tulip, crocus, anemone, ranunculus, and daffodil bulbs now, so they can chill in your refrigerator for a month before planting. This is also the best time to sow annual seeds like poppies, pansies, snapdragons, and bachelor buttons. And planting perennial plants like seedling columbine, penstemon, and foxglove this month will give them a chance to take root while the soil is still warm.
Now through mid-October is the best time to plant groundcover, shrubs, trees and vines from containers.
If you are looking for some color in your yard around Christmas time, consider planting primroses, euryops, winter-blooming bergenia, forsythia, daphne, flowering quince, and camellias.
• University of California-certified master gardeners are available to answer gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions for Heather Hamilton can be sent to email@example.com.