Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

February, 2010
Regional Report

Plant Cool-Season Vegetables

Transplant globe and Jerusalem artichokes, and cole crops such as broccoli, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, and cauliflower. Sow seeds for root crops including beets, carrots, leeks, onions, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips.

Watch for Cabbage Loopers

Cabbage loopers are found on many vegetables, especially members of the cole family, such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and bok choy. They are about one-half inch long green caterpillars that make a little arch or loop with their bodies as they crawl, hence their common name. They have chewing mouthparts, leaving ragged looking holes on foliage. Handpick them and destroy. No pesticide should be needed if you patrol regularly.

Finish Pruning

In the low desert, if you haven't already done so, finish pruning roses, deciduous fruit trees (e.g., apples, peaches and apricots), non-native shade trees, and grapes. If citrus needs pruning, wait until all danger of frost is over. Citrus is frost-sensitive, and pruning stimulates tender new growth.

Rotate Houseplants

Turn houseplants a quarter turn at least once a week so they grow evenly towards the light. Leach accumulated salts by allowing water to soak through the soil and run out the drainage holes. Gently wipe larger leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust. Set plants up on pebbles in a saucer of water to increase humidity.

Transplant Tomatoes

Mid-February to mid-March is the time to transplant tomatoes and peppers in the low desert. If you're at a higher elevation, wait until your last average frost date. Add generous amounts of compost to the bed and mix a phosphorus source into the bottom of the planting hole. Phosphorus promotes flowering and fruiting, and since it doesn't move readily through the soil, it should be placed where the roots will be.


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