Southwestern Deserts

April, 2007
Regional Report

Mulch Tomatoes

Spread several inches of straw around the base of plants, which helps keep fruit from resting on damp soil where it will rot. Mulch also helps maintain soil moisture, reduce soil temperatures, and inhibit weed growth. Keep the mulch a couple of inches from the stems so wet mulch doesn't come into contact with the stem tissue.

Monitor Plants' Water Needs

With temperatures bouncing up and down so strangely this spring, and even a bit of rain, it's not a good idea to set the irrigation timer and forget about it. Overwatering is just as bad as underwatering and can promote root rot. Watch plants for signs of too much water: leaves turn light green to yellow, young shoots wilt, soil is damp and may have algae or mushroom growth. Inadequate watering can cause drooping, curling, and wilting foliage; older leaves turn yellow and brown and eventually drop off; and stems die back.

Enjoy Cactus Flowers

Many cacti are entering their bloom period. If you don't have any in your garden, visit botanical gardens or specialty nurseries. Now is a perfect time to see the blossom colors and decide what to add to your collection.

Prune Frost Damage

It's probably safe to prune back any remaining dead frost damage on plants, with the exception of ficus trees. Some of them are still pushing out new buds so it may be difficult to determine how much to cut.

Plant Citrus Trees

Plant citrus so they can establish before intense heat hits. Allow sufficient space for trees to grow to their natural height and width. If space is limited, or you can't handle all of the crop on a regular tree, choose dwarf or semi-dwarf varieties.

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