Southwestern Deserts

November, 2001
Regional Report

Plant Cool-Season Vegetables


Continue to plant such vegetables as lettuces, greens, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, beets, carrots, onions, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi and peas. Asparagus can also be planted now. Sidedress existing vegetables with a nitrogen source, such as fish emulsion or water with a "tea" made from compost or worm castings, which will also provide nitrogen.

Reduce Watering Frequencies


As cool temperatures arrive, plants need less water. Continue to water the same length of time with your irrigations (to ensure that water penetrates the entire root zone), but reduce the frequency. How often to water depends on many factors, including weather, soil type and plant maturity. As a guideline, water established desert trees, shrubs and groundcovers every 14 to 30 days and non-desert-adapted plants every 7 to 10 or 12 days.

Protect Plants from Freezes


Cold nights have arrived. Monitor weather forecasts. If freezing temperatures are predicted, cover tender plants, especially non-natives such as citrus, lantana, bougainvillea, hibiscus and natal plum. Annual vegetables and flowers will benefit from covering also. Wrap young citrus trunks with burlap, frost cloth or several layers of newspaper and leave on until the last spring frost. Cover the tips of columnar cacti with Styrofoam cups.

Plant Blooming Annuals

Nurseries are full of annual transplants if you didn\'t get seeds planted earlier and want a blast of color. Try pansies, violas, snapdragons, poppies, alyssum, lobelia, stock, impatiens, petunias, geraniums, lisianthus, marigolds and calendula. If planted in containers, fertilize every week or so with an all-purpose fertilizer. If planted in the ground, fertilize about once a month. Deadhead to encourage blooms to continue.

Live or Cut Christmas Tree?


Decide if you want to purchase a live containerized Christmas tree. Aleppo and Eldarica are the two pines that will survive in the low desert, typically found for sale at this time of year. Determine if you have enough space for the trees to reach maturity in the landscape. These are tall trees reaching 40 or more feet in height and width, so keep them away from utility lines. They are both medium water users.

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