Southwestern Deserts

November, 2004
Regional Report

Plant Cool-Season Vegetables

Enrich soil with 4 to 6 inches of decomposed organic matter. Sow seeds for all types of greens, such as leaf lettuces, mustard, turnip and collard greens, and Swiss chard; and root crops including beets, carrots, turnips, onions, and kohlrabi. Sow seeds or set out transplants for bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale. Maintain moist soil until seeds germinate.

Monitor Weather Forecasts

Nights are getting chilly. Be prepared to protect frost-sensitive plants if freezing temperatures are predicted. Plants susceptible to frost damage include citrus, lantana, natal plum, bougainvillea, and hibiscus. Cover plants with burlap, old blankets, or frost cloth -- not plastic.

Change Automatic Timers

Reduce the frequency of watering because landscape plants heading into dormancy don't use as much water. Water established desert-adapted trees, shrubs, and ground covers once every 14 to 30 days; non-desert plants may need water every 7 to 12 days. Water should always penetrate the same depth through the root system: 1 foot for annuals and succulents; 2 feet for shrubs; and 3 feet for trees.

Caring for Winter Lawns

If you overseeded Bermuda with ryegrass, water several times daily for 5 to 10 minutes to keep soil uniformly moist until seed germinates. As the grass develops, increase the time between watering to every 3 to 7 days, depending on weather and rainfall. Water should soak 4 to 6 inches deep, which is the depth of the rye root system. If you did not overseed, reduce watering to once per month for dormant Bermuda. Water should penetrate 8 to 10 inches for Bermuda, which has a deeper root system.

Choose Rose Varieties

Bare-root rose planting time is coming up next month. Peruse catalogs for varieties that interest you. Modern roses, such as hybrid teas, grandifloras, miniatures, floribundas, and climbers, all grow here. Old-fashioned -- sometimes called heritage -- roses also do exceptionally well, reaching huge sizes. These roses make excellent screening hedges in the low desert, and are relatively fuss-free.

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