I found this great website that gives you advice and checklists for Phoenix gardening each month. Do I trust them? No...but since it's still under 100 degrees I think I'll remain optimistic about April. Here's the list:
- Weeding: April and May are the worst months. If you have done your homework in winter, you should be all right, else do your best and plan for more prevention next year.
Homework. Yeah, I guess I didn't do that. There are weeds everywhere, probably in part because for awhile I thought they were pretty. They're not pretty anymore. After hours of weeding and using an entire container of Round-up, I just have dead and ugly weeds. Guess I have some homework to do for next year! (Could someone invent a week killer that dissolves the dead weeds into thin air by then? Please and thank you.)
- Planting: Except for bedding plants, your summer planting should be finished now: summer really starts in May in Phoenix, so it is your very last chance. It is the best month for tropical plants like Bougainvillea, Lantana, Citrus, etc.
When people say things like "this is your last chance," I want to run for the nearest nursery and buy whatever looks pretty. But this time I'm resisting the urge - I'm going to focus on keeping the plants I do have alive and see what I can add later. I did, however, give better support to the bougainvillea and hibiscus I already have - they needed something to hug while they grow because they were turning into a ground cover rather than an upright bush.
(Yes, that's jute holding the branches to the plastic post...hopefully that's not breaking any major gardening rules?)
- Lawn: Weed and feed your Bermuda grass lawn. It starts growing when the night temperature stays above sixty. Re-seed bare patches.
After months of a gorgeous winter lawn, it's time to go back to the drawing board. I'll write more about the process of introducing the noxious weed known as Bermuda grass into my yard once I tackle it. In the meantime, I'm mourning the loss of that gorgeous winter lawn I helped create.Good times.
- Roses: Remove dead flowers and fertilize roses after each bloom period for a final crop before hot weather.
I think I'll just buy some from the store instead.
- Citrus: Check that all the trunk parts of citrus and young trees that are exposed to the sun are painted white. This keeps them cooler and protects them from sunburn. Use white latex paint diluted with water (1 volume white flat latex paint for 1 volume water) .
I've been scared away from citrus trees (for now) by the seeming desperation of other citrus tree owners' attempts to give away all their fruit before rats come and eat if off the street. Gross.
- What to sow:Balsam, Basil, Scarlet Runner Bean, Celosia Cockscomb, Cosmos, Dahlia, Four O'clock, Gaillardia, Gloriosa Daisy, Gourds, Hollyhocks, Kochia, Marigold, Nasturnium, Portulaca, Salvia, Shasta Daisy, Sunflower, Thunbergia, Vinca, Zinnia
I have almost none of those things. I need to plant new basil because the one I had finally gave up. I have one random sunflower plant growing in the backyard from a random seed last year, and I threw several packets of wildflowers in the dirt just to see what happens. More on that when/if something actually happens!
- In the vegetable garden: Plant cantaloupe, eggplant, peppers, pumpkin, summer squash, watermelon, winter squash.
I'm not sure if it helps or hurts that I was ahead of schedule on this one, but I did already plant both eggplant and green bell peppers! The eggplant looks pretty happy...all the other plants are just in this shot so I can prove that they're still alive.
Happy Spring to those who have more seasonal spirit than this heat-hating gal.