Arizona Gardening: Fall gets busy with fruit trees, vegetables - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Arizona Gardening: Fall gets busy with fruit trees, vegetables

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Posted: Friday, September 5, 2008 1:05 pm | Updated: 10:29 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q: Do we fertilize fruit trees sometime in the fall, and when can we start planting fall vegetables?

A: We are there. The key to remembering fruit tree fertilizing schedule is to remember the three holidays — Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day — and fertilize fruit trees near those dates. The Labor Day application is probably the most important of the three because the trees will store up some of the nutrients for the bud break next spring. Fertilizer ratios of 16-8-8, 16-8-4, 21-0-0 or near those numbers will be fine.

Nitrogen is the always the first number of the ratio, and you will notice that it is the highest number in the ratios just mentioned and should also be in the one you choose to apply.

First, water the trees. Then, during the irrigation, sprinkle it under the outer two-thirds of the leaf canopy and a little beyond the drip line and continue the irrigation slowly and deeply. Broadcast the fertilizer out at about the rate you sprinkle salt on your food and you will have it about right. Trees planted less than one year, regardless of size, don’t get the feeding until they are a year old. Fertilize your fruit trees now!

September is the month that opens the fall vegetable gardening season. There are no shortcuts to producing a great crop of vegetables and ornamentals, and soil preparation is the most important step to successful gardening in the Valley. If the soil is not right with organic material and the pH is not right, plants will not produce, so do it correctly.

Spade the garden beds to a depth of 8 inches to 12 inches — turn the soil over, break up clods. For each 100 square feet of garden area, add 3 pounds of 16-20-0, ammonium phosphate; 5 pounds of sulfur and 5 pounds of Ironite. If you plan on growing onion, use gypsum in place of sulfur because sulfur make onions strong and hot. Spread 3 inches to 6 inches (eight to 10 2-cubic-foot bags) of compost, forest mulch or steer manure. Mix all this together, water it well, and when the soil has dried to just moist, plant.

During September plant vegetable seeds or transplants of beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, chard, cilantro, lettuce, peas, spinach, and turnips. You can download a complete list of vegetables and a month-by-month planting schedule from the cooperative extension at You should also plant strawberry plants during September and October if you would like strawberries next spring. If you plant transplants and keep them covered during frosts and freezes, you can enjoy them this fall and next spring.

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