Southwestern Deserts

August, 2003
Regional Report

Start Vegetable Transplants

Sow seeds indoors for cool-season veggies to get a jump-start on fall transplanting in October. Start cole crops, such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Sterilize containers with a 10 percent bleach solution, and use a good quality sterile potting soil to inhibit damping off disease, which quickly wipes out seedlings. Wait to sow other cool-season vegetables directly into the garden.

Control Spider Mites

Spider mites are extremely tiny, but you may notice fine webbing or a rusty color on foliage. Blowing summer winds cover plants with a fine layer of dust, which happens to be a favorite condition for spider mites. Simply hose off plants with a blast of water to keep mites at bay. Do this early in the morning so the water will evaporate before the heat of day and won\'t burn the foliage in the hot sun.

Citrus Care

Fertilize citrus with one third of its annual total nitrogen requirement. Water in immediately. Citrus rinds may split now. This is caused by insufficient water earlier in the season, which creates tough rinds that can't expand as the fruit expands. There's no way to fix the problem at this point. Mark your calendar for next year to remember to water 3 feet deep and out past the tree's canopy to soak the entire root zone.

Watch for Scorpions

Scorpions are active during warm summer nights. They hide during the day under rocks, wood piles, unpruned palm fronds, and other safe places. They seldom strike unless threatened, so wear gloves and covered shoes when working around potential hiding sites. Scorpions actually eat a lot of nuisance insects, such as roaches and crickets, so they can be considered beneficial. If there is a sudden influx of scorpions into your yard, it may be due to construction or tree removal. The best method of control is to remove their hiding places.

Monitor Water Use

Large-leafed plants such as squash and gourds may appear wilted at the end of the day. During the heat of afternoon, leaf surfaces transpire water faster than the roots can absorb it, so foliage appears wilted. Our natural reaction is to apply more water, but at this point it can drown the roots, causing them to rot. Wait to apply water until the following morning. If leaves have recovered, they may not need water. If wilted, then it's probably safe to apply water.

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