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January 2013 Gardening Checklist for Arizona’s Low Elevation

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: January, 2013, Page 128



ARIZONA’S LOW DESERT

WHAT TO PLANT
Sow cool-season veggies—Continue to sow beets, bok choy, carrots, chard, collards, endive, green onions, leaf lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes, rutabagas, spinach and turnips. For delectable sweetness and creamy texture, try Japanese white turnips. Their tender, vitamin-rich green tops are also edible. Find ‘Tokyo Market’ turnip seeds at seedsofchange.com. For small planting beds or a patio container, sow ‘Asian Baby Leaf,’ a mesclun salad mix from reneesgarden.com. One packet contains seeds of Chinese cabbage, komatsuna, mizuna, green and red mustard, rocket (arugula) and tatsoi.

Transplant cool-season veggies—Because they take longer to mature, transplant broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower to encourage harvest before temperatures heat up.

Sow tomato, tomatillo and pepper seeds—Start indoors to be ready for transplanting outdoors from mid-February through March in the Phoenix area. Use sterile potting mix and containers to inhibit damping-off, a fungal disease that quickly kills seedlings as they emerge.

Sow or transplant herbs—Borage, chamomile, chives, cilantro, dill and thyme start readily from seed and their flowers attract pollinators to the garden. Herb flowers also are edible. Toss a handful in a salad for added color and flavor.

Transplant bare-root plants—Nurseries are stocked with deciduous fruit trees (apple, apricot, peach, plum and pomegranate) and roses. Keep roots moist until planting.

GARDEN MAINTENANCE
Check vegetables for cabbage loopers—Examine the undersides of leaves and along stems for thin, pale-green caterpillars about 1 inch long. You also might spot ragged leaf edges or holes left by their chewing mouthparts, or tiny black pelletlike droppings (frass). Loopers—their body forms an arch, or loop, as they move—are equal-opportunity eaters. They chomp on many cool-season veggies in addition to cabbage, including bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale. Monitor plants frequently and handpick caterpillars to control their population. Birds may also help you by snapping them up as succulent treats.

Fertilize citrus—Feed in January or February with one-third of the tree’s annual nitrogen requirement. See Garden Events, for citrus clinics that cover how to fertilize.

Prune Modern roses—A fairly severe haircut promotes April’s glorious bloom period. Remove dead, diseased, weak or crossing canes that grow through the center of the bush, inhibiting air circulation and sunlight. For hybrid teas and grandifloras, leave 4 to 8 healthy, thick canes. Then cut these back one-third to one-half, stripping foliage and weak twiggy growth from them. For floribundas and miniatures, leave 8 to 12 canes as well as more foliage and small stems than if trimming hybrid teas. Wait to prune Old Garden (heritage) roses until after they bloom.


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