Southwestern Deserts

December, 2010
Regional Report

Force Paperwhite Bulbs

Choose the biggest, fattest bulbs you can find as they are more likely to send up multiple shoots. Fill your container to an inch or two from the rim with small rocks, aquarium pebbles, marbles, polished sea glass or similar material. Closely nestle bulbs into the rocks and fill in around them. As a guideline, the bulbs should be in the rocks up to their "shoulders" or where the bulb starts to narrow at the top. This provides support to hold them steady when the shoots and flowers appear.

Plant Centerpieces with Red Flowers

Vary centerpieces from the usual red poinsettia for the holidays. Tuck 4-inch cool-season red flowers, such as celosia, dianthus, gazania, geranium, petunia, salvia, snapdragon and stock, into an attractive container or wrap the nursery pots with festive foil or cloth.

Succession Sow Vegetables

In the low desert, favorite salad ingredients can be sown successfully through February and they'll continue producing until temperatures heat up in late spring. Sow small amounts of leafy greens, carrots, radishes and scallions in succession every few weeks so you'll always have a fresh batch of tasty tender baby veggies ready to create a healthy salad.

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.

Order Seeds

Now is the time to buy seeds for unusual tomato and pepper varieties so you don't get caught empty handed during the hectic holiday season. Sow seeds indoors 6-8 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.

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