Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

July, 2012
Regional Report

Sow Gourds

Gourd vines are not fussy about soil, although they do need regular and consistent water to develop their fruits. Seeds germinate quickly, and the vines grow rapidly in warm weather. Vines may scramble 20 to 30 feet long, so plant where they will not be in the way, or train them up a very sturdy trellis. Days to maturity ranges from 90 up to 130 days, so choose a species that will mature before your typical first frost.

Tend Yourself in the Garden

"We're having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave," say the song lyrics. It may or may not be tropical in origin, but it is crazy wicked hot just about everywhere in the country this summer. If possible, garden in the early morning hours, or at dusk when the sun is less intense. Wear a hat and protective sunscreen. Take frequent breaks in the shade and drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.

Sow Devil's Claw Seeds

This native plant germinates and grows in summer heat, when very little else does. Soft green leaves make an attractive, although temporary, ground cover. Sow seeds in loosened, unimproved soil in advance of the monsoons. Order seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson, (

Prevent Potential Storm Damage

Destructive wind and dust storms seem to be occurring with more frequency in the Southwest, and monsoon season is here. Prepare by removing dead or diseased tree branches, cutting all the way back to where the branch meets the trunk or the next larger branch, so you don't leave stubs. Be sure trellises, art objects, shade umbrellas, patio furniture, and similar items are securely anchored, or store items in the garage until monsoon season is over.

Sow Mini Pumpkins

Pumpkin vines require significant water to develop big jack-o-lantern-sized fruits. If you want to grow pumpkins with your kids for Halloween, try mini pumpkins instead, which are easier to grow to maturity. Sow seeds in soil improved with 4 to 6 inches of organic matter. Also layer several inches of mulch on top of the soil to maintain moisture.


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