Southwestern Deserts

July, 2007
Regional Report

Propagate Houseplants

Most common houseplants actively grow in summer, so it's a good time to take cuttings to propagate new plants. The parent plant will quickly recover, and the cuttings will quickly root. Pothos, philodendron, arrowhead, spider plant, wandering Jew, and creeping Charlie root easily in water or potting mix.

Solarize Soil

Solarization uses the sun to heat up soil to 140 degrees F or more, effectively killing most soil-borne diseases and weed seeds. If your garden is plagued by such problems, give solarization a try. First, layer fresh manure or other organic matter on top of the soil. It will help heat up the process. Water thoroughly. Cover with clear, heavy plastic and weight the edges with rock, brick, or soil. Make sure wind can't get beneath to lift and tear the plastic. Your goal is to keep that steaming heat in there. Leave the plastic on four to six weeks for the process to work.

Control Squash Vine Borers

Aptly named borers drill into the stems of vining crops and eat the interior, causing vines to wilt even if they are well watered. To control this problem, start by inhibiting the moths from laying eggs by covering plants with floating row covers until flowers appear. Remove the covers for pollinators. Adult moths lay eggs on stems near the plant base, usually in twos or threes. Simply rub them off before they can hatch. Also, look for borer entry holes and sawdust-like droppings at the base of the plants. Slit the stem lengthwise from the hole toward the tip of the vine and remove the caterpillar. Cover the stem with soil and it will reroot.

Make Lemonade or Limeade

Ponderosa lemons and Mexican limes may still be on the trees. Don't let them go to waste. Make a refreshing beverage and kick back with your favorite gardening catalogue!

Protect Grapes

Staple paper sandwich bags around grape bunches to protect them from birds. Don't use plastic, which will create a mini hothouse and rot the fruit.

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