In September, summer turns to fall, but summer never goes willingly in Southern California. It always kicks us with one last heat wave. When I was a kid, school started right after Labor Day, and that first week back at school was always the hottest of the year. (Hot like peppers.) Do you remember it that way too?

Nonetheless, now is the time to start the vegetable plants that like to grow through the cool fall and winter. A food gardener who has no gaps in harvest must simultaneously have one eye on today and one eye a few months down the calendar.

Let’s get into specifics.


Sow seeds of broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, lettuce, beets, carrots, parsnips, spinach, chard, peas, radish, turnips, parsley, cilantro, potatoes.

Plant seedlings of broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale and other greens (mustard, chard, collards).

Broccoli seedlings for planting in September. (I sowed them in August.)

Fruit trees

It is here at the end of summer when a fruit tree will really tell you if it hasn’t been getting enough water over summer. On citrus, the leaves will cup like taco shells if the tree is thirsty. On most other trees, the leaves will droop. They’ll also get brown tips or margins.

Deciduous fruit trees are done growing for the year. Peaches, plums, apples, apricots — they’re just going to hold what leaves they have until later in fall, but they won’t be making new ones. So if you prune them now, don’t expect new growth until next spring.

Fan-Stil pear tree, maturing fruit and holding mature leaves in September.

Avocados, however, will make one more flush of new leaves starting in September or October. Look forward to that.

New flush, Edranol avocado tree, September 2020.


What are folks harvesting from their yards here in September? (Plan to plant these if you want to eat them from your yard in future Septembers.)

Vegetables: tomatoes, tomatillos, beets, peppers, pumpkins, eggplant, squash, basil, cucumber, melons, beans, corn.

My kids eating a corn variety called ‘Delectable’ a few Septembers ago.

Fruit: pomegranates, passion fruit, figs, dragon fruit, avocados (Lamb, Reed), raspberries, pears (Fan-Stil), apples (Fuji).

S8 dragon fruit growing on vine in September.
Fuji apples coloring up, ready to eat in late September.


At the end of summer, I’ll leave you with this. I once encountered a helpful way to remember the different vegetables we grow and eat in the warm seasons versus the cool seasons. In the warm seasons we mostly eat the fruits of vegetables. Fruits? Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, melons — they are all fruit, botanically speaking (“a structure that holds seeds inside”).

In the cool season, we mostly eat the leaves, roots, and flowers of vegetables. Think of the leaves of lettuce, the roots of carrots, and the flowers of cauliflower and broccoli plants. If you don’t pick a head of cauliflower or broccoli on time, it becomes a globe of yellow flowers.

For my posts on growing any of the above vegetables or fruit trees, see the list of all of my Yard Posts HERE

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