There are three planting/growing seasons in the Desert; late October/November and February/March are the most prolific growing seasons of the year. Just about anything can be planted during these months. EVERYTHING GROWS WELL. Feeding during optimum growth months is the key to promoting healthy plants all year long. Fertilize the entire garden: the lawn, shrubs, cacti, palms, trees of all kinds (a word about citrus follows), roses….everything planted in the ground or in containers will benefit from appropriate feeding. We write about proper water and fertilizing a lot in this newsletter. Spring is MOST IMPORTANT for new growth in your garden; fertilizing is critical to promote that new growth.
No doubt we are experiencing a very mild winter; it has been great for growing ‘vegetables’ this year. Tomatoes have not stopped producing, basil has wintered over. Fruits and vegetables that usually die off in colder weather have survived through the winter. Nevertheless, it is the best time to start planting your spring vegetables. We have peppers, broccoli, artichokes, onions of all kinds, zucchini, chiles, lettuce and herbs. There are new varieties too numerous to mention. Something new in every shipment. Be sure to give a little extra water to newly planted material and fertilize!Citrus Trees
Citrus trees can bloom anytime during February and March–your citrus trees should be blooming by now due to our very mild winter. It is perfectly acceptable to feed your citrus trees while they are in bloom as long as you use a mild, ORGANIC fertilizer. As always, we suggest using Dr Earth Fruit Tree fertilizer. Organic fertilizers will prevent the blooms from burning off. If blossoms fall off the tree before the fruit has set you will not have fruit to enjoy next winter.
Or, the geometry of gardening. We often see shrubs and trees take on various geometric shapes foreign to their natural growth pattern here in the Desert. Bougainvillea are not meant to grow in the shape of pom poms. Texas sage (leucophyllum) are not supposed to look like mushrooms. Shrubs of any kind are not supposed to look like trapezoids. Why does this type of pruning occur? Unfamiliarity with proper pruning practices and basic economics are the main issues.
It is simply more cost effective for landscape personnel to electronically prune shrubs and trees two or three times a year rather than prune by hand on a regular basis. This practice has become status quo in many public garden spaces and HOA’s. Some of you may see this in your own gardens. There is a difference between a well groomed garden and a poorly pruned one. As always, communication and education are key and it will require a little extra work but the outcome is well worth it. The staff at Moller’s Garden Center will be more than happy to help with specific questions you have regarding correct pruning. Be sure to have the right equipment for the task. Clean, sharp pruning shears appropriate for what you plan to prune are a must. You can’t prune a tree limb with hand shears. Clean as you go; carry a small bucket or plastic bag to make clean up an easy task. Properly dispose of your pruning harvest. Many live in areas where ‘green’ waste removal is provided. Proper pruning and spring growth will allow severely pruned plants to quickly return to their natural state. Your garden will become a welcoming, serene space to enjoy all the year round.
Garden Pests in Spring
Garden pests are a reality of spring in the Desert. Warmer weather and and an active growing environment make plant material perfect hosts for all kinds of pests and diseases. This is where appropriate watering is key. Healthy plants are able to fend off these pests; stressed plants have no defense system at all. Look for powdery mildew on your roses. (use Rose Defense with Neem Oil or Bonide Rose 3in1) Leaf minor can appear on your citrus trees. They should be sprayed with a Spinosad product while tender new growth is present. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Citrus trees are not vulnerable to Leaf Minor once the new growth hardens off. Look for bud worm on your geraniums and petunias–use Liquid Sevin to keep them under control. A preemptive strike against grubs involves Bonide Tree & Shrub drench. Drench the soil in the spring to get the defense system working on your agaves, yuccas and palo verde trees.
Weeds are also unwelcome visitors to the garden. Pre-emergents will prevent weeds but you must use the correct product for the job. Flower beds need Amaze granules, which are released slowly each time you water. For the lawn use Bonide Crabgrass Control to fend off unwanted weeds in your turf. Watching where the water is dispersed will also help prevent weed growth — weeds can not grow where they do not get water.
We have enjoyed a very mild winter this year. As we write this newsletter, we are expected to reach 87 degrees. Temperature highs seem to fluctuate by 15 degrees on a day to day basis this year. This can be a little tough on container gardens who have spent the winter rooting out. Twice weekly watering is great for plants in the ground but might not be enough to sustain your potted gardens. You may need an extra watering for your container gardens as we roll into spring. Don’t forget to fertilize these plants as well!
Things to think about in the coming months
Do you have a blooming OLIVE TREE in your yard? It is a HUGE contributor to allergies in the desert. Prevent the tree from fruiting with a simple, two step spraying process to avoid messy fruit and unwanted allergies. Watch your tree, you want to spray it just as the blossoms begin to appear.