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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

May 7 Garden Newsletter

Dear Gardeners,

I know what you were thinking (I read minds). You were thinking that I wasn’t going to write the May newsletter… that I had quit… that I had taken up the hobby of under water basket weaving and lost passion for passion vine… that I had decomposed under the pressure to compost… but you were wrong. Very, very wrong. I’m back and composed of garden passion and ready to newsletter you all the important things about May gardening in the desert. Here goes!

May is a glorious month in the desert garden. It’s not as work-filled as the last few months; this should be a month of enjoyment the harvest of the work of previous months. However there is always work to be done in the garden and so here is your checklist:

1. LOVE THE LADIES and TRUST THEIR SKILLS. With all the spring rain we received, comes the consequences good, bad, beautiful, and most terribly ugly. One of those consequences most terribly ugly would include dastardly white flies, irritating aphids, and skeletonizing caterpillars. Time to bring in the marines! Head to your local garden center (or Arbico.com) and get yourself a bag of ladybugs. They are fun to release and extremely beneficial to the garden. Follow the common-sense instructions on the bag to get them to stick around your place rather than moving on to greener pastures. While you are enjoying your lesson in insects, see if you can get green lacewings, red wigglers, and praying mantis eggs. Those are fun, educational, and beneficial to the garden as well. The key to using beneficial insects is trust. Trust the good bugs to take care of the bad ones. If you spray your plants with Bt, it will indiscriminately kill all insects. Save the ladies, save the garden.

2. THAT’S MULCH BETTER! Let’s think for a moment about plants that are native to the area. Why don’t you want to plant a native tree near the pool? Why not palo brea or mesquite or desert willow? Because they are so messy. Why are they so messy? Because they shed flowers all spring and leaves all year long. Why do they shed? Because they are self-mulchers. Why would desert plants need to self mulch? To insulate the roots from extreme temperatures, and add organic matter to soil that is very low in organic matter. How can we learn from this? Mulch your plants! Mulch insulates the soil, nutrifies the soil, reduces the need to water, increases plant productivity and vitality, and decreases weed germination. What more need I say? Mulch ‘em.

3. FRESHEST IS BESTEST. Just for Mother’s Day I will throw this in. Did you ever wonder how on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day there happens to be an endless supply of roses? Isn’t it uncanny, if you think about it?! Especially Valentine’s Day. I mean, where are they growin’ those puppies? Brazil? Nope. There aren’t too many flowers that can be chemically stored for months on end, but roses are one, lasting up to 6 months! Can’t do that at home, though, so you might want to try these tips to keep the roses (or whatever flowers) looking beautiful longer: First start by filling a sink or bowl with lukewarm water and cut your stems at an angle with a sharp knife or pruners under the water (or under running water if you prefer). Prepare your very own flower preservation solution: 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, 2 tablespoons bleach, 2 tablespoons of white sugar, and 1 quart water (I keep mine in a quart jar and just use ½-1 cup per day in a vase. Trim stems and change water every day to extend the life of the blooms.

4. SHAVE AND A HAIRCUT. May is the last call for tree and shrub trimming. Trim up your trees to make room for sidewalk users and to strengthen the branches to withstand upcoming monsoon gales. Shape your shrubs the way you like them. Once temps start hitting 100˚, it stresses most trees and shrubs to be given a trim. Therefore now is the time, while the weather is still nice, to prepare them for when the weather is less friendly.

5. THE WRITER’S MIND NEVER WHITHERS. Journal your experiences this year in the garden to remind you next year what worked and didn’t so much. If you found that you planted foxglove in front of your caladium and missed seeing the colorful foliage, you can record that so that next year you can plant foxglove’s tall stalks in the background rather than center stage.

That’s your newsletter. Use it well. I know there are many things not covered (I read minds, remember?!), but I can’t be expected to type all night and day. If you would like, leave me a comment on the blog or shoot me an email and I will answer your questions if I can! Happy gardening!

Hands dirty,
Trish

2 Garden Reflections:

Jason Janice and Karissa Merrell said...

Trish.
I have a lot of Hibiscus, they are full of blooms and very green and pretty, but a little stragly. Would it hurt them to give them a little trim?

Thanks!

WishTrish said...

If they are green and full of blooms but stragly, I would say they are in need of more sun... They can take a lot of it. Where are they planted? And, no, it isn't tool late to give them a trim. They'll like it. :)