UC Master Gardener Program of Alameda County
University of California
UC Master Gardener Program of Alameda County

Your Alameda County Garden, Month-by-Month

 

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Winter Months: Although it is cold outside, the early months of the year are important for getting your garden off to a good start. 

January

  • Plan your summer garden. For vegetable variety recommendations for areas near costal California, consider the recommendations from our test garden. Another useful resource for gardeners whose plots are influenced by the San Francisco Bay's maritime weather is Plant Recommendations West of the East Bay Hills.
  • Buy seeds.
  • Plant bare root fruit and shade trees, roses, shrubs and vines. For information of fruit tree varieties, check out UC Davis’ Home Orchard site.
  • Plant bare root artichokes, asparagus, blackberries, grapes, raspberries, rhubarb and strawberries.
  • Start seeds (indoors) of cool season leafy vegetables (lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, etc), Brassica family crops (broccoli, spring cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) and leeks.
  • Prune dormant deciduous plants such as flowering vines, fruit and shade trees, grapes, roses
    and hydrangeas.
  • Prune salvias, penstemons, butterfly bush, California fuchsia and other summer-blooming perennial shrubs. 

February

  • Prune Fuchsias.

March

  • Plant root crops in garden (carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, potatoes, etc.).
  • Plant peas.
  • Start seeds (indoors) of warm season crops requiring less than 4 weeks of growth before setting out.  These include cucumbers and squash.
  • Set out cool season crops and cool season flowers (pansies, nemesia, primrose, etc.).
  • Prepare soil by digging in cover crops and incorporating “hot” manures (this can be done earlier).
  • Do a test run on irrigation system and complete needed repairs.

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Spring Months: April and May are among the busiest months for gardeners. Almost all warm season vegetables, herbs and annual flowers are planted. When June arrives, some of your efforts have paid off!

April

  • Continue to plant root crops in the garden (beets, turnips, carrots, radishes, potatoes, etc.).
  • Set out plants or seed directly summer annuals (cosmos, marigold, sunflower, petunia, etc.).
  • Some cool season crops can still be planted in early April (chard, leek, green onion, lettuce, other salad greens).
  • Summer crops can possibly be planted in late April if it’s warm enough. Start cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and melons indoors in peat or newspaper pots.
  • Plant summer bulbs (callas, cannas, dahlias, gladiolas, etc.).
  • Fertilize and water as needed.
  • Manage any pests who have appeared with help from UC Pest Notes.

May

  • All summer vegetables can be planted (beans, corn, squash, tomatoes, peppers, melons, etc.).
  • All summer annual flowers can be planted or sown.
  • Continue planting summer bulbs.
  • In cooler areas east of the coastal hills, continue planting beets and carrots.

June

  • Fertilize, water and deadhead flowers to keep them blooming.
  • Check your plants for insects and disease. Get help from UC Pest Notes.
  • Replace harvested cool season crops with warm season crops.
  • Harvest and enjoy! 
  • Check to be sure that your irrigation system is working and meets the needs of your garden with the calculator for estimating water needs.

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Late Summer: During these three months the gardener’s hard work is rewarded with beautiful blooms and tasty vegetables.

July

  • Continue to fertilize, water, harvest and deadhead flowers to keep them blooming.
  • Check often for pests, disease and weeds.
  • Some summer crops can still be planted—early corn, beans, summer squash. 
  • Check to be sure that your irrigation system is working and meets the needs of your garden with the calculator for estimating water needs.

August

  • Fertilize, water, deadhead, etc.
  • Begin planting cool crops for fall and winter harvest. Cole crops (broccoli, mustard, cabbage, etc.), beets, carrots, lettuce (provide shade), green onions, potatoes, peas, etc. Wait until September in hotter climates.
  • Start seeds of cool season annuals (calendula, stock, etc.).
  • Check to be sure that your irrigation system is working and meets the needs of your garden with the calculator for estimating water needs.

September

  • Continue harvesting, feed that compost pile as summer crops are removed (unless crops are diseased).
  • As summer crops are removed, cover crops (also called green manure or compost crops) can be planted. Read an article on cover crops here.
  • Continue to plant cool season plants.
  • Plant onions from seeds (West of the East Bay Hills). Check out Onions 101 for an in-depth look at growing onions.
  • Set out cool season annuals (pansies, primrose, stock, etc.). Wait until next month for hotter areas.

Fall Banner 600

Fall moving into Winter: These months complete the summer harvest but are the best time to get the garden ready for spring.

October

  • The summer harvest continues but the end is in sight. As you harvest, clean up all debris; it hides bugs and diseases.
  • Continue to care for cool season vegetables and flowers planted in September.
  • Cole crops, lettuce, green onions, potatoes, peas, etc. can still be planted but will probably not fruit until the spring.
  • Ditto for cool season annuals unless already blooming (try 4-inch pots).
  • Spring bulbs (daffodils, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, etc.) can be planted this month and next. Tulips must first be chilled before planting.
  • Plant garlic and shallots after October 15 to harvest next summer.
  • Plant cover crops (also called green manure or compost crops) such as fava beans
  • As you pull up old crops and rake up leaves, compost, compost, compost. You’ll need the finished compost in the spring.
  • Fall is a great planting time for perennials and California Natives in our climate. Cut back and divide leggy perennials or plant new ones. Plant shrubs and trees.
  • As plants slow down, stop fertilizing. Water as necessary and consider turning off irrigation systems.

November

  • All of the October tasks can be done in November. Generally, it is better to plant earlier rather than later. It is best for plants to establish a good root system before the weather turns cold and wet.
  • Continue to add plant residues and weeds to your compost. Turn your compost pile to keep it aerated.  Cover the pile before heavy rains - you want it to be as wet as a wrung-out sponge.
  • As plants slow down, stop fertilizing. Water if necessary.
  • Spray dormant, deciduous fruit trees, roses and berry bushes with a dormant oil spray.

December

  • Continue watching everything planted. Keep weeds under control.
  • Plant onions from seeds (East of the East Bay Hills). Check out Onions 101 for an in-depth look at growing onions.It’s time to plan for your next garden.
  • If the seed catalogs have not yet arrived, visit them online.
  • Spray dormant, deciduous fruit trees, roses and berry bushes with a dormant oil spray.
  • If you have had a frost, take care NOT to prune back dead branches. Read more here on dealing with frost, both before and after.

Author’s Note:

I garden in Oakland. Seek out a Master Gardener in your area for additional advice, especially concerning when and what varieties to plant.

Webmaster Email: dakooyumjian@ucanr.edu