Southwestern Deserts

July, 2004
Regional Report

Transplant Palm Trees

If you have an urge to plant and can't wait for temperatures to abate, try a palm tree. They are one of the very few things that thrives when planted in the midst of summer. Dig a hole that is as deep as the rootball and twice as wide. Do not amend the backfill with organic material. Soil should be kept consistently moist for 6-8 weeks until roots establish. Use a soil probe to ensure water soaks deeply through the entire root system.

Aerate Bermuda Lawns

Aerate every two to four years only when Bermuda is actively growing during the warm summer months. Rent a powered aerator for large lawns or use a foot press aerator for small patches. The goal is to punch small holes through the top layer of thatch and soil. This allows oxygen, moisture and nutrients to reach the grass roots.

Sow Pumpkins

Sow pumpkin seeds in soil improved with plenty of organic matter to have a crop in time for Halloween. If whiteflies are a problem in your area in late summer, realize that they love the big leafy foliage. Apply several inches of mulch to maintain consistent moisture. Pumpkins are heavy water users, however, the large leaves may show signs of wilting in the late afternoon, as the roots can't uptake enough water to equal the amount lost in transpiration. Wait to water until the next morning because plants may recover during the night. If foliage is still wilted in morning, apply water.

Sow Sunflower Seeds

Sunflowers germinate readily in warm soil, and it does not have to be heavily organic. Keep soil moist until germination occurs. There are all sorts of color variations and sizes from mammoth to dwarf. Native sunflower seeds can be sown and left to germinate when the summer monsoon season starts.

Monitor Citrus Water Needs

Fruit sizing is dependent on regular soil moisture, especially during summer's hot days. Water deeply through the entire root system to a depth of 2 feet for young trees and 3 feet for mature trees. In summer, trees that have been planted for one year need water every 5 to 7 days; trees that have been in the ground one to two years need water every 7 to 10 days; and older trees every 10 to 14 days. These are guidelines only. Your particular soil conditions, weather, tree health and maturity, wind and other conditions will determine how often to water.

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