Southwestern Deserts

May, 2007
Regional Report

Fertilize Citrus

If you haven't already done so, fertilize citrus trees with their second feeding (April/May) of the year. Apply one-third of the tree's annual nitrogen requirements. Scratch fertilizer into the soil at the tree's outer canopy edge and water deeply.

Increase Watering Frequency

As temperatures heat up, monitor plants for signs of water stress and increase irrigation frequency as needed. The goal is to water deeply and as infrequently as possible. Water should soak 3 feet deep for trees, 2 feet deep for shrubs, and 1 foot deep for annuals, perennials, and cacti and other succulents. Use a soil probe to determine how far water soaks. It will move easily through moist soil but stop at dry, hard soil.

Relocate Containers

Soil temperatures in containers heat up drastically in summer, basically "cooking" roots, especially if plants are still in black nursery pots. Consider moving plants into morning sun and afternoon shade, or beneath the filtered light of a tree's canopy.

Turn Compost

Use a pitchfork to turn your compost pile. Moisten everything with water as you work. Cover it with a tarp to retain moisture a little longer if you don't like to turn piles in the heat of summer. Organic matter dries out quickly in summer and the decomposition process slows.

Save Seeds

As wildflowers and cool-season annuals finish their life cycles, save seeds for sowing next fall. Hold dry seedheads over a paper bag and tap them loose. Clean out any chaff, and make sure seeds are completely dry before storing in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

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