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January 11, 2005

DESERT BLOOM: New Year Gardens


It's the new year - as far as I'm concerned it's a new year until sometime around march. But so far it's been one remarkable year for water. Even without the tsunami's! Las Vegas getting snow and weeks of rain, avalanches on Mt. Charleston - all mighty impressive. Not enough to cure the water shortage at Lake Mead, but...

I bet that this spring we'll have the whole pallate of desert flowers just going crazy with all the moisture. After these inches of rain here in the Desert Southwest, I'm so looking forward to seeing the colors in Red Rock and in Death Valley. Now that'll be the real Desert Bloom!

But walking or driving through the little (or not so little) floods from the rain should remind us of how important it is that the soil have drainage. One thing about desert soils - they're not what anyone would call porous. Water tends to sit at the soil surface and take a very long time to be absorbed. In many places around the world, soil is like a sponge - takes water in, holds what it can and releases the excess, but in a lot of parts of the Mojave Desert, it's more like a concrete slab. Which is also why we get floods - run off. We need to be concerned about how the soils in our own gardens drain. Except for the true desert natives, which have evolved so many curious ways to survive or perhaps ignore the vagaries of the Mojave, most of the plants that we put in yards or gardens don't do well with what are called "wet feet". Check your yard to make sure that plant roots aren't sitting in pools of water. We do have information sheets at the office to help you with that.

Another thing with all the rainfall, you can skip irrigating if the sky is providing the water. Yesterday, honest to goodness, I was walking in the rain and passed a lawn with its sprinkler irrigation going full blast.

And just a word to the wise as we start thinking about preparing for spring - compost. I know, I must bring up the topic of compost every other show, but it's the miracle stuff. Adding compost helps with drainage because it's so sponge-like, it helps the soil's acid-base balance, and helps provide fertility to our very infertile soil. And it doesn't have to be a big production number to make it, in fact, it's easy enough to buy finished compost from several places around town. The important part is to put it into your soil.

But speaking of new years and spring, isn't that also the time when you want to widen your horizons, and learn something new? I just happen to have some learning opportunities right here!

Cooperative Extension is going to be holding a few interesting classes, and they'll be starting soon. For anyone who's thought about using true desert plants for food, or learning how people in the Mexican desert are growing vegetables, we're having a workshop with faculty from the University of the Sonora this month on that topic. It'll be on Wednesday January the 19th - starts at 9 am with a round table at noon.

On Valentine's day and the day after - February 14th and 15th for you non-romantics, Maria Ryan (extension's natural resource specialist) and I will be running the Invasive Weed Training course. Yes, I know, a weed is just a plant out of place. That's true, but it's when they're out of place. As I've mentioned before, weeds aren't only a nuisance in the landscape, they can actually destroy whole ecosystems, replacing native plants, removing big amounts of water, diminishing the food supply of native animals. And our Southern Nevada ecosystem is under attack from these plants. This is a 12 hour program. It'll be your chance to learn what they do, how they work, and how to identify and control them.

Finally, we'll soon be starting the spring training class for new Master Gardeners. If you, or someone you know, has thought about entering the ranks of the Master Gardeners of Southern Nevada, we're having the orientation meeting on February 8. It's a Tuesday evening. You have to go to orientation to enter the class that starts March first. A few years ago, we set up the spring class for people who are busy during the day, but want to become part of the program. It runs on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from 6 to 9 pm until the end of May. You can become one of the Southern Nevada Experts!

Call the Extension office to register for orientation, or to find out about any of the programs we'll be having over the next few months.

For KNPR's Desert Bloom, this is Dr. Angela O'Callaghan of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Oh, did I say it yet? Happy New Year!

See discussion rules.


AngelaFeb 19, 2015 | Tricky Spring
If you're thinking that our warm weather means your plants are safe from a late frost, you're probably right. But then again, you never know. It only seems that Jack Frost has skipped a visit to Southern Nevada this year. Here's Angela O'Callaghan with Desert Bloom.

NormFeb 14, 2015 | Selective Pruning
Norm Schilling guides gardeners to keep up as Spring approaches. Selective pruning will keep things on track in the yard.

NormJan 21, 2015 | Prepare for Spring Now
Don't look at the calendar. Look at your plants to tell you what do to in the yard right now. Your plants think Spring is near, so use this time to transplant and prune. Desert Gardener Norm Schilling tells us what to look for.

NormDec 30, 2014 | Winter and Citrus
Citrus can thrive in Southern Nevada - even in our cold - when you choose the right varieties. Norm Schilling tells us how.

AngelaDec 13, 2014 | To Prune or Not to Prune
As winter draws near, leaves begin to fall. And the bare view may prompt some excessive pruning. It's tempting, but your plants may appreciate a little restraint. Here's Angela O'Callaghan with Desert Bloom.

NormDec 6, 2014 | Prepare Your Plants for Cold Weather
It's not cold . . . yet, but Norm says be ready and your yard will appreciate it. Don't let a cold snap cost you your investment in plants in your yard. Norm Schilling has some ideas to get ready.

AngelaNov 25, 2014 | Evergreens
As we head into the holiday season, more attention is given to 'evergreens.' Too many cones on a pine tree might be a sign of weakness. Angela O'Callaghan tells us all about evergreens on Desert Bloom.

NormNov 14, 2014 | Fall Colors
Even in the desert, Fall colors can brighten your landscape. Here's Norm Schilling with Desert Bloom.

NormOct 28, 2014 | Fall Colors - Web Only Edition
With glorious weather for our yards to fall back into bloom, Norm has some additional suggestions for color to add to the profusion of blooms for this time of year. (Web-only content)

NormOct 7, 2014 | Second Spring
The call it a "second spring" Norm Schilling has some plan ideas to make Fall colorful in your yard. He has a checklist of plants looking their best, because now is the time to plant in Southern Nevada.

AngelaSep 30, 2014 | Fountain Grass
A weed by any other name is still a weed even if it doesn't look like one. If only everything in our gardens thrived as well as weeds. Here is Angela O'Callaghan.

NormSep 15, 2014 | Desert Heat
Norm describes a significant casualty of the desert heat. There's going to be a big gap in Norm's Yard and a lesson on the reality of our desert landscape.

AngelaAug 12, 2014 | Organic Pesticides
Choosing a method for ridding your garden of an unwanted guest, be it bug or weed, is not always a simple choice. But the more you know, the better it goes. Here's Angela O'Callaghan

NormJul 28, 2014 | Lose that Lawn
We know, it's a desert out there including every place there's a lawn. Norm Schilling reminds us all the ways he wants you to consider losing the lawn... permanently.

AngelaJul 14, 2014 | Protect Fruit Trees from Birds
If you put a good deal of care into growing fruit trees, there are likely some birds who will take advantage of your effort. Here's Angela O'Callaghan.

NormJul 10, 2014 | Palm Care, Part 2
To keep, or not to keep. Norm Schilling ponders his palm trees, on this edition of Desert Bloom.

NormJun 10, 2014 | Palm Care
Norm Schilling has mixed feelings about how we use Palms in our yards. Full grown palm trees transplanted into the entry way of a mall is a common sight that tells Southern Nevadan's "something" is nearly open for business. He reminds us that those palms come with challenges.

AngelaJun 3, 2014 | Hot Weather Plants
As temperatures across the Valley begin to climb, you might be wondering what will survive in your garden in the months ahead and what probably won't. There are some 'sweet' options. Here's Angela O'Callaghan

NormMay 20, 2014 | Desert Color
Norm Schilling just got back from Belize and has some ideas for lush leaves in your desert yard. He reflects on some well suited plants to provide color and variety in this edition of Desert Bloom.

AngelaMay 6, 2014 | Emerald Ash Borer
Raising a healthy shade tree in the Mojave is not always easy. And if one particular insect makes its way here, it could get even harder. Here's Angela O'Callaghan with Desert Bloom.

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