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

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: April, 2013, Page 116
'Kieffer limes'



MID AND HIGH ELEVATIONS

WHAT TO PLANT
(Mid Elevations)

Vegetables—Sow beets, carrots, kohlrabi, leafy greens, leeks, peas, radishes, rutabagas and turnips. Transplant asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, horseradish, peppers and rhubarb. Sow eggplant, melon, peppers, squash and tomatoes inside to transplant outdoors when soil warms.

GENERAL MAINTENANCE
(High Elevations)
Vegetables—Sow bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, eggplant, melon, peppers, squash and tomatoes inside to transplant outdoors when soil warms.

(Mid and High Elevations)
Research trees—Be ready to transplant trees suitable to your elevation after the area’s last frost date, or wait until summer, after spring’s drying winds abate and the monsoon’s increased precipitation and humidity help plants establish with less stress. In addition to mature size, determine the species’ average cold hardiness and sun exposure needs and match them to your conditions.

At mid elevations, consider Arizona ash (Fraxinus velutina), netleaf hackberry (Celtis reticulata) and Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis).

At high elevations, try blue spruce, chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), flowering crabapple (Malus sp.) and New Mexican locust (Robinia neomexicana). Cottonwood and quaking aspen are suited for moist riparian or rainwater harvesting areas. Arizona white oak (Quercus arizonica), Emory oak (Q. emoryi), Gambel oak (Q. gambelii) and shrub live oak (Q. turbinella) are Arizona natives that grow across a wide range of elevations up to 8,000 feet.
Thin deciduous fruit—Enhance ultimate fruit size by thinning apples, apricots, peaches and pears on trees to a 6-inch spacing between fruits.

(Mid and High Elevations)
Continue to inhibit the spread of cypress bark beetle—The best prevention for any pest or disease is to keep plants stress free. Water cypress and juniper trees with slow, deep irrigations during dry spells, especially April to June, before the monsoon season.
Improve annual vegetable and flower beds—Layer 4 to 6 inches of organic matter—such as compost, dried leaves or well-aged manure—on top of beds. Southwestern soils contain very little organic matter, and it must be replenished before each planting season. If soil is wet, wait until it dries to turn under the organic matter to a depth of about 12 inches. Never dig wet soil, which will ruin its aeration, structure and “workability.”
Monitor weather forecasts—Cover annual flowers and vegetables, bulbs, fruit trees and other cold-tender plants if a late frost is predicted.


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