Southwestern Deserts

October, 2006
Regional Report

Transplant Landscape Plants

Transplant desert-adapted trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, perennials, cacti, and succulents. Fall planting provides seven to eight months of moderate temperatures, allowing plants to establish and grow a strong root system before summer. There is no need to add organic matter to the backfill, just dig a hole that's only as deep as the rootball and 3 to 5 times as wide. A wide hole helps roots spread outwards through the soil.

Plant Cool-Season Vegetables

Sow seeds for root crops such as beets, carrots, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, parsnips, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips, as well as greens such as celery, chard, collards, endive, leaf lettuce, mustard, and spinach. Cole crops can be sown from seed or transplants. Try bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and kale.

Start Cool-Season Culinary Herbs

Sow seeds for chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, and parsley. Set out transplants for lavender, lemon balm, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Plant in soil with excellent drainage because herbs don't like wet roots.

Overseed Lawns with Ryegrass

If you choose to overseed Bermuda, finish before mid-November as the seeds won't germinate and establish well in cold soil temperatures. Consider allowing Bermuda to go dormant in winter and save water, fertilizer, and time! Bermuda will turn brown around November and start greening up when temperatures warm up in spring, around February or March, so it's a relatively short time to go without green grass.

Change Irrigation Timers

Adjust automatic irrigation timers and reduce watering frequency as temperatures continue to cool. Timers should be reset at least four times through the year, coinciding with temperature changes. You should always apply the same amount of water (to soak through each plant's root system); it's the frequency of application that should change.

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