Hot Gardens Newsletter: Winter 2006
New Years Resolutions for 2006 and every year into the future! Rather than an ambitious list of positive things to do this year in your garden, we suggest only two. Both can make a significant difference to the planet we all share and to you, individually.
1. Plant a Tree — Even If It Is A Small One. Trees are wonderful air purifiers, so your new tree will help improve air quality for all of us. Better yet, if you plant a nectarine or other small fruit tree, you will have delicious fruit to enjoy and add to your property value, too.
2. Change Just One Light Bulb. Replace one 100 watt incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent or LED light bulb and over a 4.5 year lifespan of that one bulb you will prevent 94 pounds of additional greenhouse gases from going into the air.
Yes, we know that fluorescent or LED bulbs are more expensive initially — about the cost of a Starbucks cafe latte — but over the life of the light bulb you will save about $73 in energy and bulb replacement costs. We have “walked the walk” on this topic — replacing all our entry and hallway lights with compact fluorescent bulbs. And as all the other old bulbs burn out, we will replace them, too.
The Small Backyard Orchard. Think you do not have space for an orchard? During a recent visit to the Las Vegas Spring Preserve gardens we saw a compact orchard producing significant amounts of fruit.
Nectarines, peaches, and plums are planted quite densely in an area of about 20 feet by 50 feet. The trees have been trimmed to maintain only a small separation between them. With over 300 days of sunshine annually in Las Vegas, the trees receive all the sunlight they need even though they are close together. And these fruit trees will grow even in other places with less annual sunshine. The dense planting shades the ground to keep the soil and roots cool. And the gardeners, obviously, provide fertilizer and water.
You can find more information about fruit trees for hot, dry climates on this website. (Note: the original desert demonstration garden in Las Vegas is now closed. But, believe us, it was amazing how many fruit trees thrived in a very small space!)
Winter Drought. It is amazing to see wildfires sweeping across the states of Oklahoma and Texas in January — a time of year when that landscape is usually covered with snow. It is terrible proof that drought is a year long event. It is also a good reminder to continue irrigating your desert garden in winter — at least in the snow-free lower desert altitudes. Trees, especially, should be deep-watered every couple of weeks in winter.
A Note of Caution about Roses. If you are buying bare root roses at this time of year, check to be sure that the stems have some flexibility. If they are dry like a stick and shriveled, they may simply be dead. We prefer to purchase our rose bushes in Spring when we can be certain they are healthy. Read more about growing roses in a hot and dry garden.
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