Southwestern Deserts

April, 2004
Regional Report

Get Outdoors and Enjoy!

Be sure to get out and enjoy spring because summer heat is looming just around the corner. So much is in bloom now. Look for ocotillo, optunia cacti, aloes, hesperaloe, sunflowers, hollyhocks, lupines, blanketflowers, Mexican hat, desert marigolds, and other wildflowers. Even cool-season annuals provide pretty flowers now, such as golden dill and white cilantro (which resembles baby's breath). Let some herbs flower and go to seed, as they are favorites of pollinators.

Feed and Water Roses

Roses display their peak blooms in spring. Maintain consistent soil moisture to a depth of 2 feet. Use a soil probe to determine how far water soaks. The probe will move easily through moist soil and stop at dry, hard soil. Feed with a rose or flowering plant fertilizer. If you prefer organic fertilizers, use a nitrogen and phosphorus source, such as blood meal and bone meal. Slow-release fertilizers work well for roses but are usually more expensive than regular granular products. Follow package instructions for application rates.

Water Tomatoes Consistently

Maintain soil moisture around tomato plants to prevent blossom end rot. It looks like a bruised or watery spot on the blossom end of the fruit. It\'s caused by a calcium deficiency and uneven watering. Prevent blossom end rot by watering slowly and deeply to a depth of 1 foot, maintaining consistent soil moisture, and applying gypsum. Add several inches of organic mulch or a layer of straw to maintain soil moisture and reduce soil temperature.

Caring for Bulbs

Spring blooms are fading. Allow the foliage to die back naturally as it is providing fuel to the bulb for next season. It is okay to cut back the flower stem. Spread compost around the bulbs. In addition to maintaining soil moisture, it will supply nutrients as it breaks down. Mark the bulbs\' positions with stakes if you plan to lift them or do other planting nearby.

Water Citrus

Citrus fruit drop is normal in spring as the tree sets more fruit than it can carry to maturity. It is nature's thinning process. If conditions are especially hot and windy, fruit drop may be greater. Water citrus to a depth of 3 feet. Apply water at the outer edges of the tree's canopy, where feeder roots are absorbing water and nutrients. Increase watering frequency during summer, but continue applying the same amount of water to soak 3 feet deep.

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