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desert gardening basics
march 2013 gardening checklist for arizona’s mid and high elevations
March 2013 Gardening Checklist for Arizona’s Mid and High Elevations
March, 2013, Page 142
Photo by Richard Maack
Monarch butterfly on a desert milkweed
MID AND HIGH ELEVATIONS
WHAT TO PLANT
Bare-root and container-grown trees, shrubs and roses
—Continue transplanting through March.
—Sow shelling peas (edible peas), snow peas (edible pods) or snap peas (edible pods and peas). Most peas require trellising support. ‘Wando’ (60 days to maturity) and ‘Maestro’ (61 days) are heat-tolerant shelling peas. ‘Oregon Sugar Pod II’ (68 days) is resistant to mosaic disease, powdery mildew and wilt diseases. ‘Sugar Snap’ (60-70 days to maturity) is a reliable performer. Maximize short growing seasons with ‘Sugar Ann Snap’ (52 days), a low grower that doesn’t require a trellis.
—Sow or transplant bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, lettuce and spinach. After mid-month, sow beets, carrots, radishes and turnips.
(Mid and High Elevations)
Eggplant, pepper and tomato
—Sow seeds indoors six to eight weeks before planting outdoors after your area’s last frost date. The National Climatic Data Center provides freeze/frost probabilities by state and location. Find Arizona’s data at
—Dig up and divide overgrown clumps of fall or summer bloomers, such as asters and daylilies, to reinvigorate them and to propagate more plants. Water deeply around the plant two days before to make it easier to dig up the entire root ball. Prior to digging, prepare soil in new planting areas so that the divisions can be immediately transplanted without exposing roots to drying air. Spread 4 to 6 inches of compost and turn under to a depth of 12 inches, loosening soil and promoting good drainage. Mix a complete fertilizer designated for blooming plants into the bottom of each planting hole. Depending on the size of the root mass and its fibrous nature, you can either pull apart or slice through it with a sharp sterile knife or shovel blade, before planting.
(Mid and High Elevations)
—As temperatures warm, buds swell on trees and shrubs. Observe where this appears first in your landscape. It may signal a protected area with milder conditions, which could support other plants that benefit from a jump-start on the growing season.
Add organic matter to gardens
—Layer 4 to 6 inches of compost, dried leaves or well-aged manure on top of beds. These will decompose and can be dug into the soil during spring planting.
Cathy Cromell is a Master Gardener and co-author of Earth-Friendly Desert Gardening (Arizona Master Gardener Press)
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