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October 2012 Gardening Checklist for Arizona’s Mid and High Elevations

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: October, 2012, Page 107
Blue flax


(Mid Elevations)
—Scatter seeds for blue flax, coneflower, coreopsis, desert bluebell, desert marigold, gaillardia, Mexican hat, penstemon and poppy.
(Mid and High Elevations)  
—See entry under For the Low Desert. If the ground freezes where you live, cover the garlic bed with a 4-inch layer of mulch after several hard freezes.

Landscape plants—Finish transplanting cold-hardy trees, shrubs, groundcovers, perennials and vines early in the month so that roots can develop before cold weather sets in.

Groundcovers with autumn color—Foliage colors may vary among plants, so visit nurseries in fall to find colors that suit you. Creeping barberry (Mahonia repens) foliage turns red, yellow, bronze or purple in fall. In spring, its bright-yellow flower clusters are followed by edible bluish berries that attract birds; the berries also can be made into jam or jelly. This native low-water-use groundcover takes a wide variety of exposures, from sun to shade, and may be deer- and elk-resistant. It spreads by underground stolons and is good for erosion control.

Wild strawberry (Fragaria ovalis) leaves are a soothing blue-green shade that turns to reds and purples in fall. White spring flowers are followed by tiny but tasty fruits. The plant takes sun to shade but needs to be in sun to produce fruit. It also appreciates regular watering. 

(Mid and High Elevations)
Tidy the garden—Vining crops such as cucumbers and squash are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases that are difficult to eradicate, including cucumber beetles, squash bugs and powdery mildew. If your garden played host to these nuisances during the growing season, pull up spent plants, rake leaf litter and mulch, and dispose of it all in the trash to prevent a recurrence next spring. If your garden was pest-free, pull plants, chop into smaller pieces for more rapid decomposition and toss into the compost pile.

Protect plants—When other food sources become scarce during winter, rabbits feed on low stems of shrubs or tree bark. Inhibit their access with tree wrap, wire mesh cylinders or similar barriers.

Cathy Cromell is a Master Gardener and co-author of  Earth-Friendly Desert Gardening (Arizona Master Gardener Press)
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