Southwestern Deserts

March, 2001
Regional Report

Prepare for Spring Planting


Turn over soil to a depth of 18 inches to promote good water drainage. Layer 4 to 6 inches of compost on top of the soil and dig it in thoroughly to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. The root systems of most annual plants reach about a foot deep. Rake the soil smooth and water it to allow weed seeds to germinate (so that you can locate and remove them) before planting.

Rotate Crops

Instead of planting the same annual flowers and vegetables (or those of the same family) in the same place, rotate your plantings each year to discourage plant-specific pests and diseases from building up in the soil. Some examples of families of plants include Cucurbitaceae (cucumber, melon, pumpkin, squash), Solanaceae (eggplant, nicotiana, pepper, petunia, potato, tomato), and Liliaceae (chives, garlic, leeks, shallots).

Plant Vegetables and Herbs


Sow warm-season crops of lima and snap beans, sweet corn, cucumbers, melons, and squash. Transplant tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. Some cool-season crops can still be sown to reach maturity before summer, including carrots, radishes, beets, and green onions. Sow basil, chives, and parsley seeds and transplant marjoram, oregano, sage, and mint.

Watch for Aphids


Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied, green or grayish black insects that suck the juices out of tender new plant growth. Dislodge them from plants by giving them a strong blast of water from the hose. Beneficial insects such as ladybeetles and green lacewings will appear to consume aphids in large quantities if you don't spray with pesticides.

Plant Citrus Trees

Young trees are the easiest to transplant. They\'ll grow quickly and soon catch up to larger trees, since their root systems don\'t suffer as much transplant shock. Create a water well around the trunk with an inner and outer berm. The inner berm keeps water away from the trunk, thus reducing the chance of disease. The outer berm holds water to soak slowly into the root zone. Wait at least a year after transplanting before fertilizing.

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