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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Don’t Garden Like it’s Spring

flowersIt seems like spring outside. The weather feels like spring—the sun is shining, temperatures are warm and the plants are budding. But it’s not spring. Please don’t make the mistake of gardening like its spring.  In Phoenix, while temperatures can get warm in the winter, until late February to mid-March they can also take a quick dip into freezing territory.  Avoid several common gardening mistakes to keep an unexpected freeze or frost from zapping emerging growth.


First, don’t prune off frost damage yet.  Leave that unsightly growth a little longer.  It adds a layer of insulation so to speak to the interior of the plant.  This way, any future frost will only affect already damaged branches. Pruned plants will be susceptible to frost into the interior of the plant and can threaten the plant itself depending on the level of freeze.  Also, pruning encourages new leaf growth, which will be particularly vulnerable to freezes.


Also, avoid fertilizing tropical, subtropical and other frost-tender plants until the threat of frost has passed.  Spurring these plants to grow by fertilizing is jumping the gun.  New growth will be super-tender and frost sensitive.


Seeding spring veggies and flowers now is also a recipe for potential disaster.  There is still a huge list of winter veggies that will offer several harvests before the high temperatures of summer kill them off.  Some gardener’s utilize frost blankets and other methods to get an early planting of spring vegetables, but the soil temperature is still pretty low to truly encourage good growth and rooting on those veggies.  If you’re gung-ho about getting that spring garden in early (tomatoes being the most common), start your seedlings indoors and transplant them outside in early March. Until then, continue to plant Lettuce, Spinach, Carrots, Chard, Beets and more.

By Kari Petterson







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