In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
September, 2013
Regional Report

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A vibrant mix of salad greens is almost too pretty to pick.

Cool Season Gardening

Nights will finally cool and daytime temperatures back down as September progresses. It will soon be time to dig in for some cool-season gardening.

Low-desert gardeners are blessed with two distinct gardening seasons -- a cool one and a warm one -- with different annual vegetables, flowers, and herbs growing in each. We'll soon be heading into the cool season. Planting starts in late September or early October, with seven long growing months before summer heat arrives again.

Cool-season gardening in the low desert is glorious. The weather is perfect and plants thrive. And there are so many choices of what to plant!

If you can eat the leaves (spinach) or the roots (beets), or if it's a member of the cabbage (Brassica) family, it's a cool-season veggie. (If you eat the fruits, such as tomatoes and squash, it's a warm-season one.) There are many salad greens to try. Planting a mesclun mix -- with four to six different lettuces in one package -- is an easy way to get some variety. Look for mixes that have leaves in different colors (red, speckled) and shapes (round, oak leaf). Sow the seeds closely for an extraordinary tableau of color.

Loads of culinary favorites thrive in the cool weather. Sow seeds for cilantro, dill, French sorrel, parsley, borage, salad burnet, chamomile, chives, cumin, and fennel.

October is the month to sow wildflower seeds. They don't need improved soil. Scatter seeds in the landscape or even in decomposed granite mulch. Save that rich organic soil you've worked so hard to create for annuals that need more nutrients, such as bachelor's buttons, bells of Ireland, bishop's weed, calendulas, hollyhocks, Johnny-jump-ups, larkspur, marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies, poppies, stocks, sweet alyssum, and sweet peas. If you let these annuals go to seed next spring, they'll self-sow year after year.

Care to share your gardening thoughts, insights, triumphs, or disappointments with your fellow gardening enthusiasts? Join the lively discussions on our FaceBook page and receive free daily tips!

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