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For The Garden

November 2013 Gardening Checklist for Arizona’s Mid and Low Elevations

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: November, 2013, Page 134



Violas have many different faces. Pictured here (clockwise from above), are the classic tri-color ‘Johnny-Jump-Up’, followed by ‘Frosted Chocolate’, ‘Angel Blueberry’ and ‘Blue Blotch’.


ARIZONA'S LOW DESERT
WHAT TO PLANT
Wildflowers—If you have not yet sown seeds, scatter them by mid-month to sprout and continue growing with winter rains.

Landscape plants—Finish transplanting by mid-month.

Violas—Known for their sweet petite “faces,” violas thrive in cool weather and produce blooms over a lengthy season. ‘Johnny-Jump-Up’ is a tri-color heirloom favorite in purple, yellow and white. Its edible flowers have a mild licorice flavor. Toss in salads or use to decorate baked goods. Allow seeds to dry and disperse at the end of the blooming season and these charmers should return year after year.

Hybrids in the Viola Sorbet collection offer single, bicolor or “blotch” flowers with scrumptious names such as ‘Blueberry Cream’, ‘Coconut Swirl’, ‘Peach Melba’ and ‘Raspberry’, as well as unusual viola colors, including ‘Black Delight’, ‘Carmine Rose’, ‘Pink Halo’ and ‘Red Blotch’. (Hybrids may not have as much flavor as heirlooms nor self-sow to produce the same color next year.) Buy six-packs at your local nursery or order seeds from burpee.com, johnnyseeds.com or swallowtailgardenseeds.com.

Winter lawn—If you choose to overseed warm-season Bermuda lawns with cool-season ryegrass, do so by mid-November, when nighttime temperatures are in the mid-60s.

Cool-season veggies—Continue sowing salad greens and root crops, such as beets, carrots, onions, parsnips, radishes and rutabagas. Sow or transplant broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower.

Asian greens—Add variety to your garden and diet with vitamin-rich greens such as kailaan (Chinese broccoli or kale). Pak choi (bok choy) has white stems and green leaves, but also try colorful hybrids such as ‘Golden Yellow’, ‘Purple Choi’ or ‘Red Choi’. Shungiku (chrysanthemum) foliage and flowers are used in Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Shungiku also is a carefree flower addition to pollinator gardens. Peruse a wide range of Asian vegetable seeds at kitazawaseed.com.

GARDEN MAINTENANCE
Provide a drink—Many bird species are attracted to the sound of water, such as a fountain or a pond with a waterfall. A simple option is to add a small drip emitter over a shallow basin filled with water. Change the water every two days. Scrub well, and allow the basin to dry in the sun to help prevent the spread of disease.

Prepare for cold weather—Wrap citrus trunks with frost cloth or burlap to protect bark from freezing temperatures. The wrap can remain until spring. Stop fertilizing cold-tender plants, such as bougainvillea, citrus, hibiscus, natal plum and roses. Feeding promotes fresh, tender growth, which is susceptible to frost damage. Stockpile old sheets and blankets in a handy location to cover these cold-tender plants, along with flower and vegetable beds, if temperatures dip.

MID AND HIGH ELEVATIONS
WHAT TO PLANT
(Mid Elevations)

Spring-blooming bulbs—Plant four to six weeks before your first frost. Incorporate compost to enrich soil, improve drainage and prevent rot. Mix fertilizer for bulbs or blooming plants in the bottom of the hole or throughout the planting area. Mark bulb locations with plant labels or stakes, moisten soil, cover with two to three inches of mulch and wait for the spring show. Bulb sources include easytogrowbulbs.com and brentandbeckysbulbs.com.

Wildflowers—If you have not yet sown seeds, scatter them by mid-month.

Trees and shrubs for a firewise landscape—Transplant cold-hardy natives or well-adapted species. Evergreen plants with high resin contents, such as junipers and pines, are more flammable than leafy deciduous plants, like Rocky Mountain maple or crabapple. Review options at Firewise Plant Materials for 3,000 Ft. and Higher Elevations from University of Arizona Cooperative Extension at cals.arizona.edu/pubs/natresources/az1289.pdf.

GARDEN MAINTENANCE
(Mid and High Elevations)

Tidy up before winter—If your garden experienced pest or disease problems, pull spent plants and rake up leaf litter. Dispose of it in the trash, not the compost pile. This inhibits pests from overwintering (surviving) in the garden as eggs or larvae and resuming activity next year.

Browse fall color options—Visit nurseries and public gardens, enjoy a hike or examine neighborhood plantings. Be on the lookout for plants that add seasonal interest late in the year, including colorful foliage, interesting bark or dried seed heads to use in arrangements and wreaths. Consider the red rose hips of Rosa woodsii, golden leaves of honey locust (Gleditsia tricanthos) or colorful foliage and red berries of prostrate sumac (Rhus trilobata  ‘Autumn Amber’).

Control deciduous fruit-tree pests—Rake up leaves and fruit and place in the trash. If needed, apply horticultural oil spray to inhibit overwintering pests. For more information, see Horticultural Oil Sprays by Jeff Schalau, University of Arizona Yavapai County Cooperative Extension, cals.arizona.edu/yavapai/anr/hort/byg/archive/horticulturaloils2009.html.


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