Brrr. Cold this morning, and we had our first soaking rain on Friday night, so autumn and colder weather is definitely here in Northern CA. What does this mean for you, my fellow zone 9b-ers? It means that there is precious little that can go in the ground now; hopefully you've got all your broccolis and garlics in your beds already. However, there are a few hardy things that can be seeded:
Things grow more slowly in cold weather, so nothing is going to go gangbusters at this point. But, if you have a cold frame, or some hoops and row covers in place, you can really push the season hard. We opted to leave off row covers this year and see how our winter wheat does. It should overwinter just fine, providing us with a spring harvest. We shall see.
Everything else is in containers, and can be moved to protected areas if frost arrives. Some plants, like kale and spinach, actually improve their flavor with a little frost.
I've been working very hard on cleaning up the garden for winter, dividing bulbs and dahlias, and severely pruning woody perennials. I've never divided either our dahlias or our Douglas iris; both need to be done soonish. As winter progresses, I'll also divide things like asters and gaillardia, which I've not done before either. I'm trying to be better about things like this. Lavenders can be pruned down to their original small rounded bush size; salvias (depending on the type) and spireas also can be pruned hard.
I made persimmon jelly; it's a beautiful color, but boy does it taste weird. I used Hachiya persimmons, since that's what we were given, but they are astringent, whereas the Fuyus are sweeter. Hachiyas are sweet too, it's just that they also have that strange astringency. You know how marmalade is both sweet and bitter? This jam is both sweet and astringent. I'm just not sure what I think about it. I probably won't make it again.
I"m also trying my hand at Hoshigaki, or dried whole persimmons. I think it's going to be too humid to dry these properly, but we'll see. At the end of this coming week, I'll start massaging them every other day to bring the sugar to the surface, and then after a month they should be ready. I'll keep you posted.
I'm looking for new projects that can be accomplished in late afternoon, after it starts to get dark, but before dinner prep. This time of year is difficult for me because I like working outdoors until the light goes. And with the light going earlier, I'll have to be indoors. So I'm taking suggestions. I need a new hobby!
Happy November, everyone - enjoy this quiet time before the holidays are upon us.