Orchard Of Pomegranate Trees
oct west
(Image credit: Emma Grimberg)

Although autumn marks the end of the frantic summer gardening season, you’ll find quite a few items on your list of October garden tasks if you live in California or Nevada. Gardening in the West during fall centers around harvesting the remainder of summer crops and garden cleanup, but also includes a surprising amount of planting.

If you are wondering what to do for West Coast gardening in October, we’re here to tell you. Read on for your very own regional to-do list.

Regional To-Do List

Your October garden tasks include harvesting the fruits and vegetables you worked so hard on during the summer growing season. In the West, this includes apples-- that should be stored at 40 degrees F. (5 C.), potatoes (that must go into storage in a dark area), and pumpkins (just in time for Halloween). However, that’s not all.

Fall is also the time to harvest persimmons for those who live on the West Coast. Whether you’ve grown crispy Fuyu persimmons or the Hachiyan persimmons you eat soft, all are ready to be picked. Olive growers should be harvesting now as well.

West Coast Gardening in October

In October it’s time to do fall cleaning in the garden, the outdoor equivalent of spring cleaning in the house. Tidy up your annual flower beds, clearing out diseased plants and fallen leaves to prevent overwintering insects. Remove leaves and garden detritus from the lawn and orchard. Also, remove whatever’s left of warm-season plantings in the veggie garden. Fallen fruits and veggies with invite pests.

October is a perfect time to divide your perennials, especially flowering bushes with spring blossoms. Prune back shrubs like geraniums or pot them up for overwintering inside if your climate requires. Most trees and shrubs can be trimmed now, removing dead or diseased branches and doing whatever shaping is required.

The real joy of West Coast gardening in October is planting. Gardeners in the entire region can install new trees and shrubs, before the first hard frost. In temperate parts of California and Nevada though, that’s just the beginning.

California gardeners will find that October is the ideal time to invite native plants into your backyard. Most natives do best when planted in fall. You can plant spring bulb plants now as well.

In terms of vegetables, gardeners in coastal California can put in cool-season veggies and herbs like:

If you live in the hot desert, it’s still possible to sow warm-season plants. Hold off on corn and melons, however, and plant them in late winter.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.