Fall is a busy time in a So. California garden. Fall is the best time to transplant or divide many plants; the temperature is still warm (well mostly-this year is so-so) but more importantly the ground is still warm. It will give those seeds or transplants the perfect temperature to really build a great root system.
The soil in spring takes awhile to warm up so by planting in fall you can get an early harvest from some of those late winter and early spring vegetables. Sweet Peas are actually best started in fall, as are poppies. They won't blossom until early next year but they get the advantage of the winter rains and a head start on a good root system. Plant along side a cover crop so the cover crop can feed and protect them by crowding out any weeds that may pop up.
Another great reason to plant your fall vegetable garden is that the pest population is at a minimum and weed germination is slow and slow growing. If you decide not to grow a fall/winter garden this year think about a cover crop to protect and feed the soil.
One herb to plant now us CILANTRO! Yes, the most often question that I am asked is why can't I grow cilantro? We all know how fast cilantro bolts (goes to seed); well this is a great time of year for the herb to grow. The temperature isn't as hot as summer but it's still warm enough for a transplant or two. We still have tomatoes coming in as well as other summer veggies that pair well with cilantro in many recipes.
Other veggies you might consider are leeks, oh so wonderful in many dishes-especially soups! Kale, lettuce, onions, parsley, shallots, spinach, peas of all kinds! Love peas and snow peas, many times they don't make it into the kitchen! Try transplants of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Swiss chard and cauliflower. I see more and more people growing potatoes and if you haven't tried any in your garden yet, you'll be surprised how easy they are to grow and the flavor of a freshly harvested new potato is incredible. You can roast them with a little olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. When they come out of the oven toss them with some fresh chopped herbs from the garden, parsley, shallots or true chives and you'll never buy a 'store bought' potato again!
I'll be at The Plant Stand Sat., Sept 17th to talk about more fall plantings and cover crops. I'll be serving a Dried Cranberry and Apricot Quick Bread; you can find the recipe on my page, Event Recipes, www.debskitchen.com/eventrecipes. Thanks to Melissa's Produce for the luscious, plump dried fruit, the best!