Sun, March 29

Torrid summer months offers hope for fresh gardening start in fall

VERDE VALLEY - While the blast of June and July heat may have scorched Verde Valley landscapes, hope still shines for the fall planting of fruit trees.

"Many plants were highly stressed by the heat in June and July and required some shading. Those who planted later in the season are just now seeing many of their crops starting to take off with the milder temperatures and less intense sun," said Richard Sidy, president, Gardens for Humanity.

Certain garden varieties were particularly hard hit.

"Many gardeners experienced a tough summer for tomatoes due to the extremely hot days and an off-and-on monsoon season. Tomatoes thrive with a bit of humidity since their tiny blossoms are self-pollinating and easily dry out in hot, dry summer heat and thus do not set fruit," said Sidy.

But fear not. Gardeners have a second chance for a bountiful fall crop of fruit.

"Late fall is the best time to plant fruit trees," says Janice Montgomery of the Verde Thumbs. "They have all winter to grow roots and do much better than trees planted in the spring when they need to grow new roots and contend with hot weather."

But don't kill your fruit trees with kindness.

"No fertilizer on newly-planted fruit trees. You can fertilize after the first year of growth. They need to establish roots in the native soil they will live in before adding any fertilizer. Choose fruit trees that have a late blooming requirement so if we have a late frost their crop is not destroyed," said Montgomery.

And if gardeners were to choose just one fruit tree for the Verde Valley?

"Brown Turkey Figs are the best for here," Montgomery said.

Those interested in learning more about Verde Valley gardening can attend a variety of upcoming workshops.

Tomorrow from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., a Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop will be held in Sedona by Marianna Hartsong.

"This workshop will discuss various approaches to fruit tree pruning. It will also be an on-the-ground learning for what works and what does not work growing fruit trees in Sedona" said Hartsong. "I will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of choosing dwarfed, semi-dwarf, full size bare root trees and growing certain fruit trees from seed."

"This past June and July was piercingly hot and fried some of my trees. You will see results of that, as well. I will discuss why I think some trees did well and others did not. The workshop will be interactive and participatory."

The location will be detailed upon registration. The cost is $20 at the door. Call Karen 928-282-5484 to register and plan on parking at the Sedona Community Center.

For gardeners in the Cottonwood area, help is on the way.

Get some free seeds that do well in the winter at the Cottonwood City Library on Sept. 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the fall opening of the Seed Library. Also, a seed saving class will be held there Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration is limited. Call 634-7559 to sign up.

For more information on these and other events, visit

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