Fall Vegetable Gardening
Late Spring Gardening
Flowers of the Desert Garden
Desert Living LATE SPRING GARDENING
By Joan Putney and Betsy Knaak
The Borrego Springs low desert has two distinct gardening seasons, the fall when
many winter vegetables can be planted, and the hot summer season beginning in
late March and into April, when melons, basil, squash, zinnias, marigolds,
cactus, and new citrus trees can be planted.
• Citrus: New citrus trees can be planted this month, and established trees
should be fertilized.
• Landscape trees, shrubs, cacti and succulents can still go in, early in the
month, so that roots get established before summer.
• Seeds or transplants of cantaloupe, jicama, lima beans,
okra, basil and oregano can be set out in the warm-season garden.
from Old Wives’ Lore for Gardeners: On marigolds, “Both the aroma and the
excretions from the roots are invaluable, whether in flower or vegetable
garden or in the greenhouse.” Two packets of seeds are currently in
the sprout stage amongst my vegetables!
• Around town in landscape: Desert gardens bloom this month with lush roses,
sunny palo verde trees, and brilliant cactus blossoms. Watch for the deep
purple-blue of the indigo bush.
Photo of Indigo Bush, Betsy’s Garden.
• Time to mulch. A two- or three-inch layer will conserve water, keep roots
cooler during summer, deter weeds, and looks good, too. Use compost, chopped
bark, pebbles, gravel, even straw. Remember to keep mulch away from stems and
trunk, however. Don’t forget to mulch tomato plants.
• Now is the time to adjust irrigation in preparation for the warmer months
• If you have established palm trees, feed them this month.
• Start an Ocotillo by simply cutting off a branch and planting. Water until you
are sure it is a living plant and taper off gradually. Water recently
transplanted Ocotillos weekly until established.
• Let some of your cool season flowers and vegetable go to
seed. Collect by tapping the heads inside a paper bag. A
favorite is Fennel. Use the seeds for planting and for
seasoning potato or slaw salads.
• Around town in landscape: Look for the lovely blue-gray
blooms of Smoke Trees and the orchid-like blossoms of
Desert Willow to be coming in along with the heat of early
Photo of Desert Willow, Betsy’s Garden.
FALL VEGETABLE GARDENING IN THE DESERT
By Betsy Knaak
October is the prime month to begin thinking about planting a
vegetable garden in Borrego Springs. A vegetable garden makes sense,
especially during a time of ever-rising gasoline and food prices. It pays to
shop in your own garden!
If you had a garden last season, the soil has
rested over the summer period—irrigation to the vegetable garden has been
turned off, the soil enhanced, watered, and then covered with plastic to
sterilize under the desert’s hot summer sun.
|Late August-September: Often the tendency is to plant too
early in our low desert (Zone 13) garden. We may experience a late hot spell
that destroys tender shoots of seeds planted too early. Rather than starting
seeds in the garden bed, use flats or used six-pac containers to start seeds.
Leave these outside, lightly covered, in the shade, and keep them moist. Soon
the seedlings will appear. By the time October comes, you will have a nice
selection of little vegetable plants to put into raised beds. Remember,
vegetables need six to eight hours of sunlight per day, so choose your
This is the time to plant herbs: chives, cilantro,
dill, fennel, parsley, sage, or lavender. Herbs can be started from seed in
small containers or flats. Now is also the time to plant beets, carrots,
turnips, and radishes. Be cautious with radishes. Plant a few seeds each week
as they grow rapidly. Plant these seeds in the main vegetable plot. (Don’t
start them in flats.) As soon as your flat seedlings are about four inches
tall and look vigorous, transplant them into the bed (Nov).
ABDNHA SCHOOL GARDEN
Springs Middle School
Swiss chard grows great! It’s delicious and many prefer it over spinach. It
is packed with nutrients, has gorgeous shiny leaves, which now come in many
colors, and it is a clean, insect-free plant. The leaves keep growing after each
cutting. Harvest the first leaves last December and still be picking into early
summer! We encourage you to try Swiss chard in your Borrego Springs or other low
desert garden! Arugula and kale are additional options for greens that grow