Master Gardener

Back to the Garden: Rain and Shine

Sheilah Britton, Pinal County Master Gardener

The summer of 2021 has been a marvelous time for gardening in our SaddleBrooke and SaddleBrooke Ranch communities. Tomatoes, squash, potatoes, lettuce, herbs, and flowers were abundant before the rains of July, and cooler temperatures have allowed us to enjoy our homegrown delights for many days following the monsoon moisture.

This July is the wettest calendar month on record for Tucson. Ever. More than eight inches of rain fell according to the National Weather Service. SaddleBrooke received 6.46 inches (maps.cocorahs.org) and SaddleBrooke Ranch logged 7.67 inches according to resident Tony Pietrzykoski’s weather station—all welcome relief for our gardens and landscapes. As we slouch toward September, there is much to be done to prepare for the cooler growing season.

As Texas Rangers lose their purple majesty and Bougainvillea blossoms fade, September is the perfect time to choose your annuals for the next bloom, so your yard will once again shine with color. Bulbs should be available by the end of the month, so start designing your flower beds ahead of time. You can begin to switch out your summer annuals for cool-season annuals as the temperatures cool down. Sow seeds for Golden Dyssodia, Mexican Gold Poppy, Lupine, Desert Bluebell, and Cherry Red Sage for a range of colors.

We now begin that transition from summer into fall, allowing us time to maintain and prepare our landscapes for cool weather, planting, and grooming our trees. Local growers and nurseries should have trees by the end of the month. As you amend your soil, consider planting native and/or drought tolerant trees and shrubs. Ironwood, mesquites, Texas ebony, and Acacia trees adapt well to our desert climate. Planting them this month will allow ample time to develop a solid root system before any danger of frost.

Now is a good time to consider adding shrubs to your landscape, as well. Look for plants that are not cold sensitive, and plant them early in the fall so they can establish a root system. Adding a generous layer of mulch to new shrubs will protect and encourage new growth. Some lovely desert shrubs include Turpentine Bush, San Marcos Hibiscus, Chuparosa, and Desert Lavender. As for pruning established shrubs, deadhead summer flowers and prune conservatively to discourage new growth.

Would you like to become a Master Gardener? If you’re reading this column, you likely have an interest in your landscape and gardens, and you’ve probably discovered that gardening in our communities offers different challenges and rewards than gardening anywhere else.

The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension trains gardening enthusiasts of Pinal County as Master Gardener volunteers, who help their fellow citizens grow better gardens and more sustainable landscapes. Our next training session for Master Gardener certification begins soon.

Class Dates: Oct. 6 to Feb. 16, 2022. Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until noon

Tuition: $150 per individual and $225 per couple, which includes books and materials. Payment in full and a completed application is due by Sept. 27.

Course location: Online anywhere with a computer and an internet connection

Certification as Master Gardener: Following successful completion of the training program, you will be required to log 50 hours of volunteer service within one year. A wide variety of volunteer opportunities are made available, as well as mentorships and training to assist you in reaching your goals.

For more information, contact Laurie Foster at [email protected]

SaddleBrooke/SaddleBrooke Ranch Master Gardeners are volunteers trained under the auspices of the University of Arizona, Cooperative Extension, Pinal County. We offer educational programs and classes to residents of our communities.

Need advice or have questions about your own garden? Send an email to [email protected] Iinclude your name, address, phone number, and photos of your issues.

Please visit our website, extension.arizona.edu/saddlebrooke-master-gardeners.

How to Become a Master Gardener

Laurie Foster

The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension trains gardening enthusiasts of Pinal County as Master Gardener volunteers, who help their fellow citizens grow better gardens and more sustainable landscapes.

Class Dates: Oct. 6 to Feb. 16, 2022, Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until noon

Tuition: $150 per individual and $225 per couple, which includes books and materials. Payment in full and a completed application is due by Sept. 27.

Course Location: Online anywhere with a computer and an internet connection

Who Should Apply: Anyone with an interest in environmentally responsible landscaping and gardening in the low desert and a desire to teach those principles and skills in their community from research-based materials is a candidate for the Master Gardener program.

Acceptance into the Course: Selection is based on a demonstrated willingness to volunteer in the community and to uphold the program mission and policies of the University of Arizona’s Designated Campus Colleague (DCC) system.

Course and Weekly Time Requirements: Three hours of weekly lecture, as well as study time for required reading between classes

Course Overview: Master Gardener training classes are taught by University of Arizona Cooperative Extension faculty, industry professionals, and other horticulture experts. Students will learn the fundamentals of selecting, installing, and maintaining healthy, appropriate landscapes and gardens for the Arizona low desert.

Class Topics Delivered Weekly:

Botany

Soil, Water, and Plant Relations

Orientation

Irrigation

Xeriscape

Native Plants

Entomology

Cacti and Succulents

Arboriculture

Weeds and Integrated Pest Management

Citrus

Vegetable Gardening

Plant Pathology

Plant Diagnosis

Two Electives, to be determined

Completion of the Training Program and Receipt of the Certified Master Gardener Title: Participants must attend all classes, with up to three missed and made-up classes. An additional 50 hours of volunteer service must be earned within one year. A wide variety of volunteer opportunities are made available.

To Maintain Certified Master Gardener Status: A minimum of 25 volunteer hours and six continuing education hours are required per calendar year.

To apply for this course or for more information, contact Laurie Foster at [email protected]

Wonderful Winter Landscapes

Zann Wilson, Pinal County Master Gardener

Your SaddleBrooke/SaddleBrooke Ranch Master Gardeners are pleased to invite you to attend an online program presented by Dr. Jacqueline Soule, author and garden expert, on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 1 p.m. Join us for Wonderful Winter Landscapes. Dr. Jacqueline A. Soule is a long-time Southwest gardener and award-winning garden writer with 15 books and over 5,000 columns and articles in national, regional, and local publications. Jacqueline has offered numerous community classes and is a popular speaker with garden clubs and professionals. More information is available at her website, GardeningWithSoule.com.

Southern Arizona is a unique growing area presenting numerous challenges—mineral rich soils, cool winters, hot summers, and voracious wildlife. Local author Dr. Jacqueline Soule will discuss a number of low water plants that will help your yard look colorful, lush, and inviting for you—especially in the cooler months of our winter, when we want to use our yards.

Register at extension.arizona.edu/saddlebrooke-master-gardeners, then click on “events.” Questions about registration may be sent to [email protected]