Southwestern Deserts

September, 2010
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.

Evaluate Your Landscape

The desert's long hot summer wears out even the toughest garden (and gardener). Often times, landscapes may have been planted all at once by a previous owner who didn't take into account the changing angles of the sun throughout the year or increased shade as trees mature. Take a good long look at your landscape and gardens to evaluate what works and what doesn't. Making changes, although labor-intensive now, will reward you with a landscape that requires less maintenance and water for years to come. And it can showcase more color and seasonal interest year round. For example, there's no lawn grass that will thrive in shade beneath a tree. Instead, remove grass and replace with groundcovers. Areas that bake in full sun through the summer could benefit from a tree or a transition to natives that bloom in the heat, such as red bird of paradise.

Feed Roses

Roses are gearing up for their second bloom period of the year. Feed them with a moderate application of a complete fertilizer.

Buy Wildflower Seeds

October is the prime planting period in the low desert. If you didn't save seeds from last year, purchase packets so you'll be ready to sow. When purchasing mixes, be sure to read the fine print to get species native to your region. Easy to grow wildflowers for the desert include desert bluebells, California poppies, firecracker penstemon, Parry's penstemon, lupines, and desert marigolds.

Help Poinsettias and Christmas Cactus Rebloom

Place a cardboard box over poinsettia and Christmas cactus plants in the evening around 5 or 6 p.m and take it off in the morning. This will trick them into thinking that the days have become shorter. Continue the procedure for about six weeks to induce the bloom response in time for the holidays.

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