This month is the perfect time for planting in the low desert. It’s cool enough now to set out those seasonal flowers and vegetables that love our fall and winter months.
Sow seeds of root crops such as beets, carrots, turnips, onions, salad greens and peas.
Rainfall helps out with irrigation this month. However, don’t rely on it with new plants.
Water citrus deeply to the tree canopy every two weeks or so.
Ease your plants into cooler weather by watering thoroughly and then gradually lengthening the time between waterings.
Prepare beds for bulbs such as ranunculus, iris, anemone, freesia, tritonia, rain lily, amaryllis, crocosmia and spider lily with rich organic soil and well-decomposed compost.
Mix phosphorus fertilizer (which promotes blooming) into the bottom of the planting hole.
Over-seed Bermuda lawns with rye grass between mid-October and mid-November.
Provide at least six to eight hours of full sun daily for vegetables to be most productive.
Repel garden pests by planting herbs such as oregano, rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme and lavender. Their aromatic oils deter most insects.
Remove the last of the warm-season flowering plants.
Divide your clumping perennials such as day lilies and Shasta daisies.
Put in cool-season color annuals such as petunias, stock, snapdragons, dianthus, lobelia, poppies and alyssum.
Set out transplants from the cabbage family.
Plant desert-adapted trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, ornamental grasses, and cacti and other succulents.
TIP OF THE MONTH
This month is prime time to plant wildflower seeds. Nourished by the winter rains that drench our soils, these blooms will enliven our gardens in spring.
Regardless of the unpredictable rains, homeowners can have their own wildflower display. Easy-to-grow natives that self-sow yearly include desert bluebells, dyssodia, lacy scorpion weed, Mexican hat, California gold poppy, desert zinnia, lupine, red flax, owl’s clover, Mexican gold poppy, paper flower, Blackfoot daisy, brittlebush, globe mallow, gaillardia, penstemon and desert marigold (these last two will transplant well from one-gallon containers).
Be sure to choose a wildflower seed mix that is formulated specifically for the Sonoran desert. Sow seeds in areas that receive full sun. Rake the ground to loosen the soil. An easy trick is to mix the seed with sand, which helps to distribute the tiny seeds more evenly. Keep the soil lightly moist until seedlings start to sprout. Maintain watering if rainfall is scant. HG