Monday, February 21, 2011

February Gardening in Tucson

I wanted to begin this particular series sooner, but I have a long list of garden journal "to do's" and so this post is overdue.  This blog is a resource for Tucson gardeners, travelers, travelers to Tucson, for my records and observations, etc. Over the past year, since March to be exact, I didn't write as much because I was collecting a lot of data from the plants and experiments done in the garden.  While I do not have a degree in plants or botany, I do have a lot of experience with them.  I am a docent at the Tucson Botanical Gardens and help educate people on the joys of gardening and plants because it's really what I love doing the most.  Sometimes I'll write from a newcomer's point of view to help guide the person better in addressing their issues on certain plants.  The professionals on these blogs are always correct in such matters as, "Plant natives.", but many people do a google search for a plant right after purchasing it. Hence the posts on lilacs, hostas, and bulbs.  Many of us move to the desert and get extremely excited about being able to garden most of the year here.  We bring with us our experience from our past lives and try them in the desert.....and not usually to success.  A plant ends up failing and gardeners feel frustrated.  I don't grow hostas or other similiar bulbs here because they take too much work and I do plant mostly natives with several exceptions in regards to pots and planters.  You'll see more of these series on plants coming up as Spring is about to be "Sprung" here and our garden centers open up for major business.  It's a lot of work, but I've found the internet to be pretty lacking for Tucson gardeners and focusing more on Phoenix gardeners which are in different zones. My hope is to build a database for Tucson gardeners from observations, findings, and experiences here.  So here are some things I've found from readings and personal finds.  Here's the February "To Do" List for Tucson.

What to plant
-pepper and tomatoes
-bare-root plants like roses and fruit trees
-cool season vegetables(beets, carrots, kohlrabi, radishes, turnips, salad greens)
-landscape plants(transplanting natives, but wait until after March 15 to plant frost tender tropicals like bouganvillea and lantana) If you like palms, wait until summer to put this plant into the ground...I'll speak more about this when I get to the palm series.

-clean up your yards, but do not prune until mid March
-for those with live oak trees, get ready for leaves to's a mess
-maintain roses-rake up and dispose of leaf litter around bushes to prevent powdery mildew.  Apply fresh mulch.  Fertilize now and when new growth is about 2 inches long.  Continue feeding every six weeks to prepare for April and May's peak bloom period.  See my past blog on roses and their performance in the El Presidio Garden.  You'll also be able to see exactly when those roses began blooming here.
-Feed fruit trees before they begin to leaf out and fertilize apple, apricot, peach, and plum. Apply nitrogen fertilizer at the plant's outer canopy range and slighly beyond. This is where the roots are actively growing.  Water deeply after application.
-Improve garden beds. Layer 4-6 inches of compost or well-aged manure on top of the soil. 
-Harvest citrus
-Divide herb plants like chives, lemon grass, mint and yarrow.
-Water and feed lawns

Source:  Phoenix Home and Garden(February 2011)
Great magazine and I highly recommend it for your coffee morning reads. I've been subscribing now for over 15 years.

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