Southwestern Deserts

January, 2012
Regional Report

Fertilize Cool Season Annuals If Needed

By definition, annual flowers and vegetables complete their entire life cycle in one season, from germination to growth to reproduction and death. All this activity requires nutrient-rich soil. If your garden is new, and you have not yet had time to build enriched soil with plentiful organic matter, your plants may benefit from side-dressings of fertilizer once or several times during the growing season. Organic fertilizers are slower acting than chemical fertilizers, but they offer soil-building benefits over the long haul. Whatever product you use, follow label instructions exactly.

Grow a Salad Bowl

The cool growing season continues. Sow seeds for cool-season greens and root crops, such as arugula, chard, kale, leaf lettuce, spinach, carrots, green onions, and radishes. Be prepared to cover the bed if frost is predicted.

Reduce Fertilizer and Water for Houseplants

Houseplants need less food and water during winter when there are fewer daylight hours and temperatures are colder. Over-watering promotes root rot and excess fertilizer is wasted. Reduce fertilizer applications by at least half and only water if the top inch or so of soil is dry.

Cover Plants Early If Freeze Is Predicted

Cover before sundown. Drape the cover (old bed linens, burlap, or frost cloth) over the plant, letting it drop to the ground. The idea is that heat radiating from the soil will warm the area beneath the cover. Do not tie the cover to the trunk or stem, which allows the warmth to escape.

Light Up Seedlings

Warm-season transplants you have growing indoors need plenty of light to keep them from becoming spindly. If you use a fluorescent fixture for extra light, position it within a few inches of the top of those plants for maximum light intensity.

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