Southwestern Deserts

December, 2005
Regional Report

Taste Citrus

Rind color is not a reliable indicator for harvesting. Rinds can be green, but the fruit may be sweet. When the temperature is cold enough, rinds start turning from green to orange. The longer citrus remains on the tree, the sweeter it becomes. Some varieties, including navel and sweet oranges, mandarins, and tangelos, ripen earlier than others and may be ready for eating and gift-giving in time for the holidays. The best time to harvest? When it tastes sweet to you!

Feed the Birds

If your landscape doesn't provide food for birds, research plants that could be added to provide seeds, fruits, or nectar at different times of the year. In the meantime, put out seeds or fruits if you enjoy bird visitors. Scrub bird baths once a week to prevent disease.

Buy Live Christmas Trees

If needles are dry and brittle, the tree hasn't been watered properly and is likely stressed or perhaps rootbound. Avoid it and purchase a tree with soft, pliable needles. Plunge the entire container into a larger pail of water. Let it soak and saturate the rootball before bringing it indoors to a sunny location away from fireplaces and heating elements. Keep soil moist. Layering ice cubes on top of the soil to melt and soak in is an easy way to water.

Water Winter Lawns

If you overseeded with ryegrass, water to a depth of 4 to 6 inches deep. Ryegrass has a more shallow root system than Bermuda grass. Water every 5 to 10 days, depending on rainfall, soil conditions, and weather. For dormant Bermuda, water no more than once per month to a depth of 8 to 10 inches.

Pull Winter Weeds

They're popping up already. Pull as soon as they appear, when root systems are small and easy to yank. Toss them into the compost for a source of nitrogen. Never throw weeds that have gone to seed into the compost.

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