Southwestern Deserts

December, 2005
Regional Report

Care for Christmas Trees

Keep trees well watered so needles don't dry out and become a fire hazard. Keep cut trees away from heating units and fireplaces, as well as out of direct sunlight. Container trees are okay in bright light, as long as the soil stays moist. After the holidays, move containers outdoors into a location protected from frost or strong winds. Plant in late winter/early spring.

Harvest Your Decor

Still don't have your decorations up? Fill bowls with fresh-picked citrus to set on tables. Tie a few pomegrantes into a wreath or pile them in a tall clear glass vase with gold or silver Christmas balls. Sprigs of pyracantha berries and rosemary add quick natural color and fragrance.

Buy Stocking Stuffers for Gardeners

Bypass pruners or loppers create a clean cut that can heal readily. Avoid anvil pruners and loppers, which crush plant tissue. A pruning tool belt keeps hands free yet holds pruners at the ready. What is your gardener's favorite thing to do? There are heavy-duty gloves for plants with spines; gauntlet style to protect rose pruners; and thin, flexible fabrics that allow for "feel" when sowing seeds or transplanting. Garden clogs are easy to step in and out of for quick harvesting trips to the garden.

Order Seeds

Now is the time to order seeds for tomato and pepper varieties. Sow seeds indoors six to eight weeks before planting out. In the low desert, the last frost date is usually about mid-March. The higher your elevation, the later the last frost date. Check with your Cooperative Extension office for the average date in your area.

Prolong Poinsettia Bloom

Keep the plant in a bright spot but out of direct sunlight. They like cool temperatures, 65 to 70 degrees F. Soil should be evenly moist but not soaking. Remove the decorative foil, water the plant in the sink, allow it to drain well, and put the foil back on.

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