Southwestern Deserts

October, 2005
Regional Report

Sow Cool-Season Vegetables

Sow seeds into improved garden soil for beets, bok choy, carrots, greens and lettuces, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, parsnips, peas, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips. Sow seeds or transplant broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, and Chinese cabbage.

Plant Perennial Flowers

Great low-water-use, desert-adapted flowers include Angelita daisies, chaparral sage, chocolate flowers, guara, Mt. Lemmon marigolds, and verbena. They can be planted directly into native soil that has been loosened and has good drainage.

Sow Wildflowers

Lightly rake unimproved soil no deeper than 1 inch. Turning the soil increases the likelihood of raising weed seeds to the surface. Sow seeds for California poppies, desert bluebells, desert marigolds, penstemons, lupines, owl's clover, toadflax, scarlet flax, and blanket flower. Keep soil moist until germination. When seedlings reach about 2 inches in height, gradually reduce watering. Don't fertilize, which promotes foliage at the expense of blooms.

Maintain Roses

Fertilize roses every six weeks until December. Watch out for powdery mildew, a fungus that appears as a dusting of white-gray powder on foliage. Clean up and dispose of leaf litter around the bushes to inhibit mildew from overwintering. Reapply fresh mulch.

Adjust Watering Schedules

If you haven't already done so, adjust automatic irrigation timers and reduce watering frequency as temperatures continue to cool. Timers should be adjusted throughout the year as seasons change, at least four times. If you don't know how to program your timer, ask your lawn maintenance crew or a savvy neighbor, or contact your city water conservation office. Many have public information staff who can provide direction.

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