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January 2013 Gardening Checklist for Arizona’s Mid and High Elevations

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

(Mid Elevations)

Sow seeds indoors—Start seeds 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting outdoors, which can be done after February 15 (chard, peppers) and after March 15 (cabbage, cauliflower).

(Mid and High Elevations)
Transplant Christmas trees—If the ground is frozen, set the potted tree in a sheltered location out of strong winds until spring thaw. Water regularly. Transplant after spring thaw, when soil is workable, but not wet.

Imagine, plan and order—In winter, deciduous plants are bare and few plants are showy, making it easy to examine the landscape with a critical eye. What added plants would extend visual interest through the seasons? Where is a shade tree or privacy hedge needed? Will new hardscape elements improve usability? Peruse catalogs and online sites for vegetable and flower varieties. Order seeds and plants early, as availability, especially for new or unusual varieties, may be limited.

(Mid and High Elevations)
Water effectively—Evergreen shrubs and trees continue to transpire (release moisture through pores called stomata) in winter and require water monthly. Irrigate established woody deciduous shrubs and trees every 6 to 8 weeks. Water perennials transplanted in fall every 3 to 4 weeks if the ground is not frozen and/or precipitation is limited. Each application should soak 1 foot deep for perennials, 2 feet deep for shrubs and 3 feet deep for trees. Irrigate early in the day when the temperature is above 40 degrees F.

Examine tree structure—After leaves drop from deciduous trees, inspect a tree’s structure and choose which—if any—branches should be pruned to improve overall health. Remove dead, broken, diseased or crossing branches. Also, remove suckers that arise from the base of the trunk. That may be all that’s needed. Examine a tree from all sides before thinning to maintain evenly spaced branches. Prune fruit trees and deciduous trees during winter dormancy. Finish pruning before buds break and new growth begins in your area. In addition, prune evergreens since cool temperatures reduce the amount of sap and resin flow from cuts.

Prepare for indoor seed sowing—If reusing pots or seed trays, disinfect with a 90/10 solution of water and bleach. Rinse thoroughly and air dry. If you don’t have a sunny indoor location, check out for a variety of supplemental grow lights.

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