UCSC Farm's Fall Plant Sale on Sept. 13-14 boosts year-round gardening

Ignore the catalogs full of wool sweaters and fleece hats! It's September in Santa Cruz, which means it's time to enjoy one of the great privileges of life on the Central Coast: As gardeners around the country are bracing for winter, their counterparts here are looking forward to the bounty of another productive growing season.

Warm fall days and mild winters make year-round gardening a reality on the Central Coast. And as surely as September ushers in warm days, the UCSC Fall Plant Sale offers gardeners a rich and timely selection of certified organic vegetable seedlings, perennials, and California natives.

Sponsored by the UC Santa Cruz Farm at the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, the sale takes place on Friday and Saturday, September 13 and 14, from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, in the Barn Theater parking lot at the intersection of Bay and High Streets in Santa Cruz.

Leeks, rainbow chards, salad greens, and Brassicas like broccoli and kale are just a few of the vegetables that can be planted this fall for winter harvest. Autumn is also the best time to plant perennial shrubs, and California natives, according to UCSC Garden Manager Christof Bernau. In addition to winter vegetables, the sale will feature perennial flowers and shrubs, including culinary herbs, subtropical salvias, herbaceous perennials like yarrow and Lady's Mantle, and a limited selection of California natives and roses.

"Because the soil is still warm, transplants quickly establish strong roots that ensure their survival during the winter," said Bernau. "Fall and winter rains ease the task of watering new plantings and provide a huge jump on establishment so plants will be in good shape as the days get longer, soil temperatures increase, and the soils begin to dry the following spring." Fall plantings will be much larger and have more bloom than those planted in spring, he added.

The sale will benefit the UCSC Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. Members of the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden receive a 10 percent discount on purchases; memberships will be available at the sale. For more information about the Fall Plant Sale or the Friends of the Farm & Garden, call (831) 459-3240.