Southwestern Deserts

May, 2006
Regional Report

Add to Your Cactus Collection

Cactus blooms delight with their beauty and oftentimes vivid color and sweet fragrance. Visit a nursery that specializes in cacti to enjoy the display. Southwestern botanical gardens are another great place to visit. Because you can see what the bloom is like, it's a good time to buy a few, or jot notes of those you like for future purchase. Another option is to trade pads and sections of Opuntia-type cacti with other gardeners.

Collect Seeds

Save dried seeds from wildflowers and cool-season annuals for sowing next year. Tap the dried seedheads over a paper bag. Clean out any other plant debris, as its moisture can rot the seeds. Label and save in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Alternatively, let the seeds drop naturally to self-sow for next year. If the dried flowers are looking a little too rangy for your taste, cut off the stalks, break them into pieces, and scatter them on the ground for the seeds to finish dropping.

Maintain Soil Moisture for Tomatoes and Peppers

These veggies need consistent soil moisture. Water should soak 10-12 inches deep. Add a thick layer of dry mulch around plants, keeping it several inches away from the stems. Wet mulch rubbing against plant tissue provides a good environment for disease.

Increase Watering Frequency for Citrus

Always water deeply through the root zone. Depending on how you apply water (drip, hose, bubblers), the time to let the water run can vary. It should soak 3 feet deep for mature citrus, about 2 feet for trees planted less than 2 years ago. Apply water at the outer canopy edge. This is where feeder roots can actively absorb it. For young trees transplanted within the last year, water every 5 to 7 days through the summer. If planted 1 to 2 years ago, water every 7 to 10 days. If planted at least 3 years ago, water every 10 to 14 days.

Check Irrigation System

Before the summer heat gets too oppressive, examine your irrigation system to make sure all components are working. Turn it on and check all emitters, pop-up sprayers, and bubblers. Unclog or replace as needed. Program automatic timers for the more frequent summer schedule.

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