Look at Marylee's summer-flower "volunteers": "strawberry fields" gomphrena, and "profusion" zinnias.

October brings us a fifth Tuesday—and, therefore, a fifth column by yours truly!

Whenever I have a fifth day of the week in a month, I see it as a freebie. Few recurring meetings or events are scheduled on fifth days, so these days are often commitment-free—meaning there is more time to garden!

It seems the key word is free. What is free in our gardens? Well, there are always “volunteer plants”! We often get plant surprises that shoot up after our monsoon rains and cooling temperatures. The plants can come from previous plantings, seeds carried in by the wind, and even bird droppings.

Cacti propagate readily—through “pups” and seeds. One year, I had a hanging succulent wreath on my gate, and a snapdragon “volunteer” popped up inside of it. I did not even know that such a thing was possible.

Above and below are a few of my recent “freebies.”

If you only have 20 minutes in your desert potted garden this week: Plant! If you haven’t started already, start now. Don’t overdo it; buy what is manageable, and go back and get more next week. You can plant all fall and winter, so go at the pace that’s best for yourself and your garden!

Marylee is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. E-mail her with comments and questions at potteddesert@gmail.com, and follow The Potted Desert on Facebook.