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January 11, 2005
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DESERT BLOOM: New Year Gardens

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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!

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Archives

NormApr 22, 2014 | The Right Plants
Our current warm spell gives the impression that some plants can thrive when they aren't really suited to our desert. Norm Schilling has some examples.

NormMar 24, 2014 | Spring Garden Party
Spring is here and the garden is blooming . . . so invite some friends to enjoy the rewards of gardening!

AngelaMar 10, 2014 | Lady Banks
If you love roses, but don't care for thorns, you may want to call on 'Lady Banks.' Here's Angela O'Callaghan with Desert Bloom.

NormFeb 26, 2014 | Signs of Spring
It may be February, but if you are paying attention, signs of Spring are visible. Dwarf peach and Mexican plum trees are in bloom. Vibrant Red Spraxis can be seen among the falling Almond blossom. Watch gardening expert Norm Schilling transplant an offshoot. Check out the slide show of photos taken from his backyard.

AngelaFeb 18, 2014 | Mulch is for Winter
Rewards for using mulch in your landscape can be had year-round. Mulch is about mulch more than just "good looks" according to Angela O' Callaghan. In any climate, and certainly in a desert, mulch is an ecologically sound way to conserve our limited soil moisture and to control weeds.

NormFeb 4, 2014 | Investing for Spring
Temperatures are scheduled to stay cool this week, but Norm Schilling finds his yard is ready for Spring. He reflects on techniques to keep older trees healthy even as the surrounding yard may change. Bigger, older trees may need more water.

AngelaJan 13, 2014 | Freezing Temps
If your garden looks like it's been zapped by Jack Frost, there's still a chance that all is not lost. Delicate desert plants can suffer chill damage even when the temperature stays above freezing. Well-established plants should survive.

NormDec 31, 2013 | Leave the Leaves
Just because most of the leaves have fallen from the trees, it doesn't mean you have to rake them all up. Norm Schilling says it's better to use the leaves as mulch to protect the plants and make rich soil. Some woody plants can be pruned now, while others should wait another month or two.

AngelaDec 13, 2013 | Winter Greens
It is the season to enjoy some winter gardening. In Southern Nevada, a cold-snap does not have to mean that your garden is done for. Angela O'Callaghan gives a few cold facts.

NormDec 3, 2013 | Winter Watering
After a recent rain followed by a cold snap this week, Norm Schilling digs in to figure out how much water is needed this time of year. Touch the leaves to get a feel and don't water much at all for the next few months.

AngelaNov 18, 2013 | Herb Gardens
Our desert environment may be hard to handle for many plants, but it is possible to grow your own herbal remedy. The healing properties of some herbs are still widely recognized. Even though we rarely have to rely on them to deal with our infirmities, Angela O'Callaghan says many herbs are pretty and simple to grow.

NormNov 5, 2013 | Fall Color
Our second Spring is in full bloom. Norm Schilling shares his favorite plants that are bringing color to the yard right now, including Chocolate Flower, Mexican Bush Sage, Autumn Sage and ornamental grasses.

AngelaOct 29, 2013 | Pumpkins
Halloween just wouldn't be the same without the jack-o-lantern. But there's more to the tradition of decorating squash than meets the eye. Angela O'Callaghan says pumpkins are more than decorations for a single day. They're food, and a very good food at that.

NormSep 30, 2013 | Fall Pruning and Mulching
Pruning for aesthetics and mulching for rich soil quality are on his to-do list before he gets started in earnest on fall planting. Find out where to find mulch and mulch more on this week's edition of Desert Bloom.

AngelaSep 17, 2013 | The Best Place to Garden
The Mojave Desert isn't the easiest place to cultivate a garden, but we do have a few advantages here. In fact, Angela O'Callaghan says Southern Nevada is the BEST place in the world to be a gardener, partly because dry air helps keep our plants healthy.

NormSep 3, 2013 | Sacred Datura
Sacred Datura is a native, but poisonous, desert plant that offers stunning blooms. Often seen at the side of the highway, it's found a home in Norm's yard.

AngelaAug 20, 2013 | Drought
Living in the desert means - learning to live with less water. The more thought you put into watering, the better off your plants will be.

NormAug 6, 2013 | Casualties of Summer
Ever the optimist, Norm finds something to learn from the casualties of summer.

AngelaJul 22, 2013 | White Prickly Poppy
Is a poppy by any other name just a weed?

NormJul 9, 2013 | Agave
Agave is well suited to our desert climate. Norm Schilling shares his collection.

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