Shady Way Gardens Bits and Briefs September 2001
CONTAINER GARDENING, PERENNIAL BASILS, CRUCIFIXION THORN

SEPTEMBER

     September...the month with that fall feeling.  You know, that hint in the air that perks up the heat worn senses with inklings of cooler weather to come.  Sorry! If recent history repeats itself, the days are still wearingly hot, although the nights should be cooling down.  Should you just be a rarin' to plant, though, September is one of the best months to install trees, including fruit trees, and shrubs.  Resist the urge to color up yet with winter annuals such as Pansy, Petunia, Geranium, Stock, Calendula, Snapdragons, etc. as the ground is just too hot.  Believe it or not, any Vinca  that has lived through the summer will begin looking better with cooler weather.  They are actually perennials and some people have had the same plants for years.  You can plant Tomatoes and Peppers now but wait to plant winter veggies such as Lettuce, Spinach, Broccoli, Collards, Mustard Greens, Cabbage, Kale, Brussel Sprouts, Swiss Chard, Chinese Vegetables, Arugula, Cauliflower etc.

CONTAINER GARDENING

Don't want to dig but want a few winter veggies?  Try container gardening.  Many a newcomer and desert rats alike have had a rude awakening with the first strike of the shovel when they encounter impenetrable soil, hideous construction rubble, rocks, caliche, clay etc.  Although some of us are blessed with a loose diggable soil, most are not and face a daunting task for a few flowers and vegetables.  proper preparation of ground beds is a whole subject in itself.  So, of course, is container gardening which offers you a great opportunity to make imaginative plant combinations as well as flexibility to move things around.  One interesting idea we have read about but not tried is the use of straw bales as a growing medium.  Place a few bales together and wet down.  To conserve moisture you can wrap plastic around the sides.  After the bales have been damp for a week or so, plant seeds or plants.  Since straw has no nutrients you'll have to fertilize regularly but lightly with a balanced plant food.  If kept too wet straw may ferment.  At season's end, use bales, veggies and all for compost.

CITRUS

Fertilize Citrus and other trees and shrubs during the first part of September with balanced citrus or tree & shrub food following label directions.  Be sure to irrigate the whole area thoroughly (preferable with a hose ) after application.  Don't wait too late.

You may have splitting Citrus or Pomegranate fruits.  This annoyance occurs when trees have dried down too much during fruit development.  The skin becomes hardened and inflexible and splits as the interior of the fruit grows.

ROSES

By September, Roses have lanquished into some pretty ugly bushes with yellow and salt burned leaves.  Continue deep watering and freshen plants daily with a strong stream of water.  Fertilize with rose food and epsom salts (about a cup per large bush) if rose food contains no Magnesium.  Wait til late in the month to do a light pruning.

BASILS

Gourmands ( and gourmets too ) of Apache Junction are undoubtedly familiar with ELVIRA'S MEXICAN RESTAURANT just east of Ironwood on the north side of the Trail.  Exhibiting amazing tenacity, two basil plants, African Blue Basil and Juan's Basil, have endured here in full sun through the rigorous, summer months.  Both of these culinary, bush basils are perennial if protected from frost.  African Blue Basil does not set seed so is propagated only from cuttings.  Juan's Basil, brought up from Mexico by one of our employees, readily produces seed.  To keep good leaf flavor, you should pinch off any Basil flowers as they appear, or just let them go for the insects to enjoy if you don't use for cooking.

CRUCIFIXION THORNS

Crucifixion Thorn (Castela emoryi) is a phantasmagorical plant ( a what ??) that should appeal to any native plant connoisseur or other plant people interested in the unique.  See two of these amazing plants on the north side of Elliot just east of the Hawes Road sign.  Unfortunately these ancient plants will be relegated to a mere pictorial existence as the blade makes way for more tile roofs.

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Web Comments george@mswn.com September 13, 2004 Shady Way Nursery 2004