Southwestern Deserts

July, 2005
Regional Report

Clever Gardening Technique

Cover Compost Piles
Normally, we want air to circulate in compost piles so all that wonderful rotting organic matter doesn't get smelly. But during summer in the low desert, compost piles dry out faster than most of us can turn and remoisten them. And who really wants to do a lot of turning in 100-plus temperatures anyway? To maintain moisture a bit longer, it can help to cover piles with a tarp or plastic sheet.

Favorite or New Plant

Palo Blanco
Palo blanco translates as "white stick" in Spanish, referring to the spectacular white bark of Acacia willardiana. This Sonoran desert native tree has peeling bark that provides textural interest. If you're from a part of the country that has birch trees and you miss their appearance, this tree would be a good substitute. It grows 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide, and has an airy look. Unlike many natives, it is thornless. It takes full sun and reflected heat, and is very drought tolerant.

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