| A Master
Gardener's guide to gardening in a hot dry climate
Hot Gardens Newsletter: September 2003
List of previous newsletters by
Cool It. You may be eager to start Fall
planting, but it is still too hot. Wait a week or two until
the temperature drops below 90F for best results. New plants really
struggle when it is over 100 degrees F. It is not too early,
however, to add 2 or 3 inches of organic mulch to your
planting beds. Work it in gently, being careful not to
disturb the roots of plants already installed. If the mulch
has a high shredded bark content, you may wish to add
fertilizer to offset the nitrogen that the bark will use as
Garden. We have
added a page about the
best fruit and nut trees for our hot desert
climate. Peaches, apricots,
plums, as well as almonds, pecans and pistachios
love our hot weather and can produce abundantly
with the right care. Nectarines, in fact, will
probably produce more fruit than your entire
neighborhood can eat.
Another benefit of these fruit and nut trees
is the shade they add to a garden.
As for apples – buy them in the
store. They do not do particularly well in the desert. Most
varieties need long hours of winter chill.
Then there are
pomegranates. A row of
pomegranate bushes make a lovely “edible hedge” with
its brilliant orange blossoms followed by dark red
fruit that looks almost like a Christmas ornament.
Pomegranates can also take the sun all day and
thrive in alkaline soil with very little watering.
The Awkward Strip. If you
have a set-back between your home and your property line
that is less than 10 feet wide, consider stripping out any
lawn you have in the space. You could replace it with red
flagstone stepping stones surrounded by
(Zoysia tenuifolia ‘Emerald’). This short
grass loves the sun, never needs mowing and will stand up to
some foot traffic. From a distance it looks like soft moss,
but is, in fact, slightly prickly.
Another solution for that narrow
strip, if you do not plan to walk in the area at all, is
large, dark, rounded river rocks with a couple of very hardy
desert plants such as the red
or yellow Mexican Bird of Paradise
gilliessii or P.
pulcherrima) or a Texas
Ranger (Leucophyllum frutescens). We recently saw
one garden where the river rocks have been coated and they
shine as if just removed from a stream. Very pretty! A word
about the Texas Ranger --please don’t prune it into a
“lollypop”. It is naturally a beautiful, loose shrub with
those gorgeous purple and lavender flowers in late summer
when the humidity gets high.
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Hiring a Pro. If you are planning to have a
professional completely redo your garden because of the
drought, make sure that person starts off by asking you
questions about what you want your garden to look like and
what you use your garden for. If the first words out of
his/her mouth is: “I can do your back yard for $10,000” – go
on to someone else. Your garden should be beautiful and
useful to you, your family and friends – not just covered
with super hot rock mulch and filled up higgledy-piggledy
with whatever is on sale at the nursery. (And when we say
“super hot rock”, be aware that rock mulch can reach
temperatures of over 150 degrees F. when in full sun.)
Go to our
Newsletter for September 2004 or
Still need more income?
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More gardening news for you
|For a burst of color in fall
plant a Fan Tex ash Rio Grande.
Other trees are
Succulents bloom beautifully
in spring and can thrive
with almost total neglect.
|Preview the many gardens
Tucson including the
Tonono Chul park.
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