September offers great growing weather, especially with the humidity we recently experienced. We remind you that gardening is a bit different in the desert; while we remain inactive through most of the summer our gardening season is in full swing come the fall.
We have had a tremendous amount of humidity these last weeks. Humidity leaves a lot of moisture in the air; this moisture enables plant material to use less water than during dryer months. Save a little on irrigation, turn your time clocks off occasionally to allow plants to dry out – just remember to turn it back on after a day or two. As long as temperatures remain consistently above the century mark, stay the course this time of year – water one time a day during the cool of the morning.
Humidity provides perfect growing grounds for perpetual seasonal garden pests such as Scale, Red Spider Mite and Mealybug. These pests attack when plants are stressed due to over-water, lack of air movement and dust build up. It doesn’t take long for them to move in; they’re not always easy to spot. There is a garden tattle tale. If you’ve got ants in your plants, you probably also have one of the aforementioned pests. AMDRO Fire Ant Bait will take care of the ants. Look for fluffy, cotton-like Mealybug along leaf midribs, leaf or stem axils and the underside of leaves. Scale is a bit more difficult to see, it coats the interior growth on a plant and looks like paint spatter. Spider Mites present as dust on foliage along with yellow discoloration. If you keep your plants clean and allow the soil to dry out you will generally be able to keep Spider Mites at bay. Our old friend the Bougainvillea Looper will become more prevalent as new growth appears. Be certain you have identified the pest correctly. Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew is a great antidote for most of what ails your garden.
Now for some good news: Vegetable seeds have arrived in the Nursery. Late September into early October is the best time to plant your seed starts. Numerous vegetable and herb varieties including lettuces, peas, carrots, radishes, watercress, beans, squash, melons, basil, peppers and tomatoes are here for you to choose from. Did you know ‘heirloom’ doesn’t just apply to tomatoes? You will find seeds for heirloom lemon cucumbers, black beauty zucchini, scallop squash, pink banana squash, Borettana cipollini onion and cayenne blend chilies to name, well to name a lot.
Organic seeds also available. Prep your beds with enriching Harvest Supreme soil amendment. Planting mix added to the desert soil helps the newly planted seeds grab onto the water, stand up to erosion and stay warm as nights cool. REMEMBER that mulch is not fertilizer – fertilizer is applied when the seeds have developed.
At Moller’s we like to see plants fertilized every month. It is the best thing for your plants. We water more often and push the nutrients through the soil a little more quickly. However if you are that occasional feeder – spring and fall are the times to do it. Everything in the garden will see notable new growth through the fall. Fertilizer will ensure healthy plants during this growing season. Use the right product for the plants you are feeding. Rose food for roses, palm food for palms and tropicals, all-purpose fertilizer for the majority of your shrubs and trees. DR EARTH products are the best we know of. Skip feeding your lawn this month as the ‘scalping’ season will be upon us in October.
The ‘scalping’ season is upon us. This is the method by which we force summer Bermuda grass into dormancy in preparation for winter Rye grass planting.
Begin the over-seeding process mid to late-September; seeding should be complete by mid-October.
It is time to break out the pruning shears after the summer off. Regular readers will know that we are not proponents of heavy or severe pruning. It is harmful to plant material and it is quite simply UGLY. We do understand that it is easier to trim heavily a few times a year, we cannot recommend it. If you must engage in heavy pruning practices, take a little time to go back through the garden with a pair of hand shears. Leave some branches long and some branches short. This will allow the plant material to maintain a more natural look as it grows out.
Rose pruning is always a little controversial. Many of you just don’t want to cut roses back when they are supposed to be cut back. Roses are meant to rest during the coolest winter months, they should be cut back mid-December into January and left dormant for several weeks. This practice promotes big, healthy blossoms for the rest of the season. THIS IS THE RECOMMENDED METHOD OF CARING FOR ROSES. However; we know some seasonal homeowners can’t bear to endure the 6 long roseless winter weeks. Late September would be the time to trim off the summer growth; you don’t want to cut the roses back as much as in December but IF YOU MUST, cut them back a little more than normal maintenance requires.
There is a lot of great information on the Internet about plants, gardening, pruning, just about anything. This is the good news. There is A LOT of great information on the Internet about plants, gardening, pruning, just about anything. This is also the bad news. Not all information available on the Internet is applicable to the needs of our Desert, our environment, our gardens. Google ‘roses’ and you will find a huge variety or roses, many of which will not grow in the Desert. Growth patterns for the same plant can be drastically different in Newport Beach, Palm Springs and Portland. Very different growing seasons, temperature fluctuations and rain fall dictate how the plant will grow. Pesticides you may use in Chicago may not be allowed in our Desert. We at Moller’s are here to buffer the information superhighway.