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desert gardening basics
august 2013 gardening checklist for arizona’s mid and high elevations
August 2013 Gardening Checklist for Arizona’s Mid and High Elevations
August, 2013, Page 128
MID AND HIGH ELEVATIONS
WHAT TO PLANT
—Sow seeds for carrots, chard, kale, leaf lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach and turnips. Transplant broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower.
—Before your area’s first frost, sow seeds for crops that mature quickly, such as arugula, baby beets and carrots, leaf lettuce, radishes and spinach.
(Mid and High Elevations)
—Native trees, shrubs, perennials, groundcovers, vines and ornamental grasses may benefit from transplanting during the higher humidity and rainfall that come with the monsoon season. Root systems will have several months to establish vigorously before cold sets in. The Southwest has incredibly varied microclimates within short distances of each other. If yours is hot and dry, and the rains pass you by, you may choose to plant next month, after temperatures abate.
Nectar for butterflies
—Adults sip nectar from a mix of native wildflowers. Sow seeds for those with varied bloom cycles, including Arizona valerian, blue flax, cutleaf coneflower, gaillardia, hoary tansyaster, Mexican hat, Penstemon barbatus, P. eatonii, scarlet globe mallow, prince’s plume and spike verbena. Alternatively, buy a seed mix suited for your growing conditions, such as High Desert Mix or Mountain Meadow Shady Mix, both from plantsofthesouthwest.com. Other options include Great Basin Wildflower Mix and Mogollon Rim Wildflower Mix, from Wild Seed in Tempe, Arizona; call (602) 276-3536 for a free catalog.
(Mid and High Elevations)
—Every two to four years, lift and divide spring-bloomers, such as candytuft, catmint, creeping phlox and iris. Mix a balanced fertilizer in the bottom of the planting hole.
Harvest cucumbers regularly
—Flavor is best when slicing cucumbers are about 6 inches long or 4 inches for pickling cukes. If allowed to grow longer and turn yellow, seeds inside will begin to mature, signaling the vine to stop bearing flowers and fruits. Sleuth among the dense foliage to ensure harvest of all fruits at their peak. Pick any long, yellowing fruits that were missed earlier to keep the plant producing for an extended season. Bury them in the compost pile or worm bin.
Cathy Cromell is a Master Gardener and co-author of Earth-Friendly Desert Gardening (Arizona Master Gardener Press).
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