Southwestern Deserts

October, 2001
Regional Report

Plant Cool-Season Vegetables

Sow all types of greens, including lettuces, chard, mustard, kale and spinach. Sow root crops, including beets, carrots, turnips, onions and kohlrabi. Transplant or sow seeds for the cabbage family, including broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Peas should also be sown now.

Transplant Trees and Shrubs


Fall is the best time to plant because root systems have about eight months to establish before the hot summer arrives. Dig holes as deep as the container and 3 to 5 times as wide. This allows the roots to spread horizontally. Don't amend the backfill with organic matter. It is not recommended to fertilize until plants have been in the ground about one year.

Reduce Watering

Adjust the timer on automatic irrigation systems. As temperatures abate, watering can be cut back. Continue to water for the same length of time (to ensure the plant\'s entire root system is soaked out to the edge of its canopy), but reduce the frequency of watering. Look for signs of water stress, such as wilting, wrinkling or yellowing.

Care for Turf


If you plan to overseed Bermudagrass lawns with winter ryegrass, stop fertilizing 4 to 6 weeks in advance. The goal is to reduce the Bermuda's vigor so it won't compete with the rye. If you do not overseed, fertilize monthly. Water Bermuda to a depth of 8 to 10 inches.

Clean Up Summer Beds

Chop up spent summer annuals for the compost pile. If you had insect or disease problems, dispose of those plants. Compost piles must heat up to about 140 degrees for several consecutive days to kill pests or diseases. If you managed to hold tomato plants through the summer, they may benefit from a light pruning and fertilizing.

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