Southwestern Deserts

June, 2007
Regional Report

Relocate Container Succulents

Aeonium are dormant in summer and need cool air. Summer heat and wet soil create root rot, so bring them indoors if possible or put them in complete shade outside. Reduce watering to every three or four weeks. Echeveria can stay outdoors but should be protected from direct sun. Filtered light is best. Water only when soil dries out.

Cover Tomatoes With Shade Cloth

Tomato pollen isn't viable over 90 degrees, so if temperatures rise above that in your area, fruit set will cease. If you want to keep the plants alive over the summer, cover them with 50 to 70 percent shade cloth. Mulch heavily to maintain soil moisture and reduce soil temperatures. Because tomato plants require considerable water and monitoring, some gardeners prefer to transfer them to the compost pile and put in new plants later in the summer for a fall crop.

Harvest Basil

Harvest basil leaves. Pinching back regularly keeps the plant bushy and productive. Fresh tomatoes, basil, and a drizzle of olive oil is all that's required for a feast!

Save Seeds

Save seeds from the last of the spent cool-season plants. Hold a recepticle beneath the dried seed heads and crumble them into it. Spread seeds on newspaper to dry thoroughly, removing as much excess plant matter as possible. Store cleaned seeds in an airtight container marked with the species and collection date. A cool, dry location is best, but not in the refrigerator.

Thin Desert Trees as Needed

Desert trees, such as mesquite, palo verde, and ironwood, actively grow in the summer so they can be lightly pruned as needed and will quickly recover. If canopies are top-heavy, a light thinning to open up air flow through the branches can help prevent trees from blowing over in summer thunderstorms. If you have a large, mature tree and are unsure how to proceed, it's a good idea to hire a certified arborist. Ask for credentials and references. Mature landscape trees add to the value of a property, so it's a good investment to obtain expert help. If someone offers to "top" your trees, chase them off your property! Topping creates an unhealthy, unsafe tree and is not recommended.

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