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Prepare gardens for the cooler temperatures of winter.

Tip of the Month

You can add some of the shades of the season to your décor with these colorful plants.

Poinsettias are the iconic holiday blooms that come in many shades and patterns. To keep your poinsettia healthy throughout the holiday season, avoid placing it near drafts or heat vents, and keep the soil slightly moist.

Cyclamen plants produce lovely red flowers above heart-shaped leaves. Place the plant in a saucer to absorb water, then drain. Keep it cool for a longer color display.

Kalanchoes grow clusters of tiny red blooms surrounded by succulent leaves. Water when the soil dries slightly. This low-care plant can be coaxed into re-blooming.

Amaryllis bulbs are readily available this season and gradually grow into a cluster of stunning blooms atop a tall stalk. They prefer bright light and moist soil.

A Christmas cactus displays arching stems with red floral tips. It thrives on neglect, but keep its soil slightly moist while the plant is in flower.

Plant

Sow seeds for cool-season vegetables, such as beets, carrots, radishes, dill, chives, turnips, spinach, lettuce, kale, mustard greens, bok choy and Swiss chard.

Plant bare-root roses and deciduous fruit trees. Choose varieties proven to do well in the desert.

Water

Most plants are dormant in the cooler weather and require less moisture.

Monitor their water needs and adjust irrigation timers as necessary.

Water cool-season flower containers and vegetables twice a week.

Harvest

Cool weather means harvest season for citrus. Test for sweetness. The longer fruit stays on the tree, the sweeter it becomes. Tangerines ripen first, followed by navel oranges, tangelos, lemons and limes.

Continue to harvest winter vegetables such as radishes, snow peas, spinach, arugula and leaf lettuce. Thin vegetable seedlings and enjoy in salads.

Prepare

For compost, use disease-free yard debris such as leaves, lawn clippings and spent plants, as well as kitchen waste including fruit and vegetables scraps, coffee grounds and eggshells (no meat or dairy).

Apply mulch to plants to protect roots, retain warmth and prevent water evaporation.

Prune

Wait until April to cut back frost damage on tender plants such as citrus, bougainvillea and lantana. Remove mistletoe from mesquite trees.

Transplant

Transplant cool-season color annuals such as snapdragon, stock, sweet alyssum, sweet pea, pansy, dianthus, Iceland poppy, calendula, evening primrose, lobelia, petunia, gazania, and geranium.

Set out transplants of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss chard, kohlrabi and onion sets.

Fertilize

Apply nitrogen to vegetables. Organic fertilizers are slower acting than chemical ones. Sources include alfalfa, blood meal, coffee grounds, cotton-seed meal, fish emulsion and bat guano. Fertilize the over-seeded Bermuda lawn once monthly.

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