The weather in Monterey, California is cloudy and dry in August. By October, however, the fog lifts and the promise of rain is in the air for this Mediterranean climate. Plentiful sunshine and mild temperatures make fall the ideal time to garden in Monterey. Home gardeners need to start now for a fall harvest from the backyard garden.
First, choose what you wish to plant and decide on your garden layout. Soils in Monterey are typically sand or silt with little organic matter. So it’s important to add a generous amount, 2″-3″, of compost. Building and enriching the soil is an ongoing process. The plants we grow each season remove nutrients from the soil. Those nutrients must be replaced for future crops.
Because fall plants are planted in dry weather, consistent soil moisture is critical. Water shortages are common in Monterey. Soaker hoses or drip irrigation are the most efficient way to water your young plants. A thick layer of organic mulch will retain moisture, moderate soil temperatures, and suppress weeds.
What to Plant
August is the time to sow gourd, winter squash, pumpkins, and watermelon seeds directly in the garden. If you wish to grow tomatoes and peppers, start the seeds inside at the beginning of August. Move the seedlings to the garden in mid to late September.
Dry weather and warm temperatures in early fall can cause leafy greens to bolt. Start seeds indoors in September and transplant seedling outdoors in mid to late October. Try arugula, cabbage, kale, lettuce, and spinach. For added protection, consider using shade cloth stretched over hoops.
Sow beans, cantaloupe, cucumber, and snow peas in early September. In late December, remove the shade cloth from your hoop tunnels and replace it with plastic to protect crops from frost. Floating row covers, made from lightweight, opaque fabric that allows sun and water through, are also a good option for frost protection.
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