Connecting Greater Phoenix gardeners with information that helps put xeriscape principles into action.

Desert Gardening Tip: Till Your Way to Fall Planting

Earthwise Tiller/CultivatorEarlier this week, I was making plans to turn the soil so I can start planting my veggie garden for fall.  With temps still hovering around 100 degrees here in the Phoenix desert (and me like a candle in the heat), the idea of getting my shovel out and digging through almost 300 square feet of garden filled me with dread.

But then I stumbled upon a brilliantly simple idea:  get a rototiller!  At first, I considered renting one.  I figured they’d give me some gas-powered behemoth for around $100 that I’d end up kicking and swearing at…while waiting for my husband to come home.  He’d of course start the thing right up and push The Behemoth through the whole garden like a grocery cart.  (Pause…wonder why he finds it so difficult to push a grocery cart at the store…no motor???)

So I turned to my Gardening Tool Guru…Amazon…and found this cute little powerhouse.  The Earthwise Tiller/Cultivator has an 11″ wide cutting path, an 8.5 amp husband-loving motor, and electric power so I don’t have to watch my mouth out with soap every time I start it.  It came yesterday (overnight…thank you, Amazon!) and I put it together in about 15 minutes…cool!  It’s pretty sturdy and, at just under $100 and 217 mostly stellar reviews, it’s dang hard to beat!

It’s getting its trial gardening run today…hopefully I can start planting tomorrow!

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Phoenix Plant Sales for Fall 2012

Desert Botanical Garden Plant SaleWhew, it seems fall comes faster and faster every year.  Just about the time I think I’m ready to start digging in and gardening, along come the plant sales.  But, hey…they’re a great opportunity to support our Phoenix desert gardens and gardeners and pick up some really great xeriscape plants!  Mark your calendars…

Desert Botanical Garden 2012 Fall Plant Sale

  • Friday, October 19 – 7:00am to 5:00pm (Member Preview)
  • Saturday, October 20 – 7:00am to 5:00pm
  • Sunday, October 21 – 9:00am to 5:00pm

Boyce Thompson Arboretum 2012 Fall Plant Sale Fundraiser

  • Friday, October 12 – 8:00am to 5:00pm (Member Preview)
  • October 13-28 – 8:00am to 5:00pm

Maricopa Master Gardener Fall Festival & Plant Sale – Metro Tech High School (1900 W Thomas Ave)

  • Saturday, October 20 – 8:00am to 2:00pm


Gardening Tip: Using a Rain Gauge

Chaney Rain GaugeOne of the challenges to gardening in Phoenix is applying enough supplemental water so that our desert gardens and landscapes don’t shrivel up and die…especially in the intense heat of late spring through early fall.  That’s why our drip and sprinkler systems are so important.

I’m reminded of this because we’ve had a nice gentle rain falling for the last few hours…a much welcomed gift here in the Phoenix desert…and I turned off my drip system to save a little water.  But how do you know when you’ve got enough rain to skip a cycle or two?

I just use one of these easy-to-read magnifying rain gauge.  You can either stick it into the ground or tie it off to a fence post.  Just make sure there’s nothing overhead to interfere with rain collection.

The general rule is that you can skip a cycle if your rain gauge shows 1/2″ or more of rain.  But this is one of those “use your best judgment” things.  I’ll skip watering my veggies tomorrow, but probably not the following day.  Xeriscape plants, on the other hand, might be fine if I skip two cycles.

Check your irrigation timer, too.  Newer models have rain and humidity sensors built into them, so they’ll automatically shut off if they detect moisture and turn back on again as it dries out.   There are also more sophisticated rain gauges that work the same way that rain sensors do.


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