Southwestern Deserts

September, 2004
Regional Report

Start Vegetable Transplants

Sow seeds indoors to ready cool-season veggies for transplant in October. Start cabbage family crops, such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and brussels sprouts. Use sterile containers and potting mix to inhibit damping off disease, which causes seedlings to tip over at the base. Wait to sow other cool-season veggies, such as greens and root crops, directly into the garden.

Spray off Spider Mites

Check for fine webbing or a rusty coloration on foliage, tell-tale signs of teeny spider mites. They thrive in hot, dusty conditions, so hose off dusty plants with a spray of water after a wind storm.

Plan for Fall

Start making plans for fall planting. Determine what you want from a plant, such as food, color, shade, or wildlife attraction. Then determine what sun exposure and space your landscape will provide for the plant. Each plant should have space to reach its mature size without unnecessary pruning to keep it in bounds. Finally, match plants with the characteristics you desire to the conditions your landscape provides.

Chill Bulbs

Chill spring-blooming bulbs, such as daffodils, tulips, and grape hyacinths, in the vegetable crisper for six to eight weeks before planting. (Note that tulips are often treated as an annual in the low desert.) Other spring-bloomers don\'t need chilling. Buy bulbs now for planting in October, as supplies of unusual bulbs disappear quickly.

Check Trees for Storm Damage

Summer thunderstorms bring strong winds that rip off tree branches like toothpicks. Take a quick walk around the yard to make sure there are no damaged limbs. If there are, prune them out, cutting back to the next largest branch. Do not leave stubs or cut too deeply into the trunk. If damage is significant to mature and valuable trees, consider hiring an arborist to do the work.

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