Southwestern Deserts

May, 2006
Regional Report

Turn Compost Piles

Organic matter needs oxygen and moisture to decompose fairly quickly. Turn with a pitchfork, which will incorporate oxygen. Sprinkle with water from the hose regularly as you turn. Don't wait to water from the top down after forming a new pile. Most of the material won't get moistened.

Monitor Water Needs

Adjust automatic timers to operate more frequently. The amount of water to apply stays the same. Water should soak 1 foot deep for shallow-rooted annuals, perennials, cacti, and succulents; 2 feet deep for shrubs, and 3 feet deep for trees.

Mark Bulb Locations

Allow any remaining foliage to die back on its own. It is manufacturing food for the bulb for next season's bloom. Use markers to locate the bulb locations so you don't mistakenly unearth them after the foliage is gone.

Move Containers

Soil in containers heats up tremendously during summer and can "cook" roots. Relocate containers from full sun or hot afternoon sun to areas with partial sun or morning sun. Sheltered areas beneath tree canopies with filtered light or under protective eaves or patios are ideal.

Clean Out Cool-Season Beds

Remove spent annual flowers and vegetables. If there's any sign of pests or diseases, place them in the trash. Otherwise, add them to the compost pile. Layer 4 to 6 inches of compost on top of beds. Adding organic matter before each planting season improves the soil.

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