Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

November, 2003
Regional Report

Sow Cool-Season Vegetables

Sow seeds for greens (leaf lettuces, chard, spinach, bok choy) root crops (carrots, beets, turnips), cole crops (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale), and peas. Alternatively, set out transplants for cole crops because they take longer to mature.

Reduce Landscape Watering

As temperatures cool, a plant's water needs decline. Reprogram automatic irrigation timers. The same amount of water should still be applied, but you can reduce the frequency. Water should penetrate through the entire root zone, to a depth of 1 foot for small plants, 2 feet for shrubs, and 3 feet for trees. Water should spread horizontally past the plant's canopy, also called the drip line.

Maintain Lawns

If Bermuda was not overseeded with winter rye, no fertilizer is needed. Water monthly to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. If overseeded, don't fertilize until after its first mowing. After new rye reaches 2 inches, mow to a height of 1 inch. Water the established rye every 3 to 7 days, depending on weather and rainfall. Water should soak to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.

Fertilize Containers

Container plants quickly deplete the available nutrients, which are also leached away by the frequent waterings that potted plants require. Fertilize regularly according to package instructions. Use a balanced product, such as 10-10-10, or one that is formulated specifically for the type of plant. A slow-release fertilizer mixed into the soil at the time of planting minimizes the time spent on this maintenance task.

Plant Vines

Vines are terrific for reducing the reflected heat off cement block walls that surround homes. Before buying, determine if you want a vine that needs to be tied to a support (e.g., pink trumpet vine), twines around something else (snail vine), or can cling to a surface on its own (cat's claw vine). Vines grow quickly when established so save yourself some digging and buy a 1-gallon plant. The planting hole should always be the same depth as the container and at least twice as wide. Three to five times as wide is even better if your soil is loose enough. This helps the plant's roots spread out through the soil. No amendments are needed.


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