Southwestern Deserts

June, 2005
Regional Report

Sow Gourd Seeds Around Compost Bins

Gourd vines cover ground like crazy in hot weather, so allow plenty of room, or provide a trellis for them to climb. If you don't plan on turning your compost bins, let gourd vines scramble up and over them, making an attractive "cover" and helping to maintain moisture in the pile.

Apply Water Directly to the Soil

Avoid sprinkling water onto plants from overhead whenever possible. Desert water sources are salty and alkaline. Water on the leaves beads up and evaporates quickly, leaving behind salt residue that can burn. Bacterial and fungal diseases can be spread by water splashing. Also, applying water with soaker hoses or drip emitters directly onto the soil reduces loss to evaporation and run-off.

Watch for Black Widows

Warm nighttime temperatures bring out black widow spiders. Females are glossy black and have a red to bright orange marking shaped like an hourglass on their belly. Males have the marking as well, but are smaller and tan in color. They also can be identified by their webs, which are messy affairs in comparison to other species. Both male and female are venomous. They will generally avoid contact with humans but will bite to defend themselves.

Sow Okra Seeds

Soak seeds in water overnight to aid germination. Okra thrives in summer's warm temperatures and produces a pretty hibiscus-like flower as well. Mix green and red varieties for an attractive planting.

Apply Mulch

June is typically the hottest and driest month in the low desert. If you haven't already done so, apply several inches of organic mulch on top of garden beds and around plants. It will reduce soil temperatures, maintain soil moisture, and inhibit weeds.

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