WHAT TO PLANT
ARIZONA’S LOW ELEVATION
Our fall planting season continues through November. Take advantage of the cool days and chilly nights to get a wide variety of ornamental and edible plants into your garden before the first frost, which usually occurs at the end of November or beginning of December.
Cool-season vegetables—Plant seeds of your favorite leafy green vegetables, such as kale, leaf lettuce, spinach, mustard, arugula and chard. Transplant head lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower from starts. Beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, peas, globe artichokes, bok choy, green onions, rutabaga and parsnips can also be
planted from seed now. Scour nurseries for asparagus crowns and place them in a location where they can grow undisturbed for years.
Herbs—Sow seeds of dill, cilantro, parsley and chives now. Transplant perennial rosemary, mint, oregano, thyme and bay. When creating your herb garden, make sure it is easily accessible from your kitchen so you will remember to use cuttings in recipes and bouquets.
Winter lawns—Plant cool-season annual or perennial ryegrass seeds before the end of the month for a green lawn that will last until Bermuda grass comes out of dormancy in late spring.
Landscape trees, shrubs, vines, ornamental grasses, cacti and succulents—Choose species that are well-suited to the desert and that won’t outgrow the available space. For shade tree ideas, check out the Arizona Community Tree Council’s “Guide to Arizona Shade Trees” at https://www.aztrees.org/Resources/Documents/Planting_Guides/SelectingDesertShadeTrees_Guide.pdf.
ARIZONA’S MIDDLE ELEVATIONS
Onions—Put in onion sets or transplants through midmonth. For variety, try sweet, yellow onions, such as ‘Walla Walla,’ or colorful reds, such as ‘Italian Torpedo.’
Bare-root trees—Ask your local nursery to order bare-root fruit trees that are adapted to your soil type and elevation. ‘Cripps Pink,’ an apple cultivar resulting from a cross between ‘Golden Delicious’ and ‘Lady Williams,’ produces crisp pink and green fruits that are sweet with a tinge of tartness.
ARIZONA’S HIGH ELEVATIONS
Freezing temperatures and blankets of snow make planting outdoors too difficult for a few months; instead, cultivate live plants indoors.
Bromeliads add a flash of tropical color to any setting. Keep them moist, but make sure they have good drainage so the roots don’t rot.
Adjust irrigation—Increase time between watering plants during cooler months. Supplement rainfall with irrigation so that water reaches the proper soil depth: 1 foot for turf, flower beds and vegetable gardens; 2 feet for shrubs and vines; and 3 feet for trees.
ARIZONA’S LOW DESERT
Harvest vegetables—Pick radishes before they reach golf-ball size. Harvest the outer leaves of greens, such as chard, but leave the inner crown undisturbed. This will ensure that plants will produce all season long. Dig up sweet potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes, being careful not to nick the tubers with dirty tools, which may introduce unwanted bacteria.
Manage weeds—Promptly pull or hoe annual weeds as they sprout. Apply a pre-emergence herbicide to landscape areas covered in gravel or rock, following the directions on the label for application and product storage. Choose a product that is premixed, or hire a professional to do the application for you.
Avoid pruning—Hold off on pruning landscape plants until spring, when frost is less likely to cause damage to new growth.
ARIZONA’S MIDDLE AND HIGH ELEVATIONS
Save seeds—Sort through seeds saved from your summer garden and remove stems and other debris. Discard seeds that are broken or if you find insects. Place seeds in envelopes or glass jars and label each with the species, variety and date collected. Include notes about what you liked about the plants, such as good flavor or pest resistance.
Remove deadwood—Sun rays are less intense during the winter and aren’t as likely to burn stems that are newly exposed to light. Prune out dead branches from shrubs and trees now. Dead stems are brittle and easily snap under pressure. Living stems remain flexible, even when leafless.
Compost fallen leaves—Rather than bagging up leaves from deciduous trees and sending them to the landfill, compost them. Dry leaves are an excellent carbon source. Mix them with a nitrogen source, such as kitchen scraps or fresh grass clippings, add water and cover the pile. Turn the pile periodically during the winter, and add water as needed to maintain a moisture content that is similar to a rung-out, wet sponge.
Brace for winter—Finish harvesting the garden, and remove spent plants. Cover the garden with mulch, such as pine needles, to prevent weed seeds from finding their way to the soil surface.
Kelly Young is an agroecology researcher and educator with a master’s degree in botany from ASU.