Southwestern Deserts

July, 2009
Regional Report

Control Weeds

Monsoon rains are followed by a quick crop of weeds. Pull or hoe them ASAP, long before they flower and set seed. They are easy to remove when soil is moist and you can leave the green foliage to decompose on top of the soil. Alternatively, toss them in the compost pile.

Note Your Sun Exposure

If you have moved to a new home or are new to gardening and landscaping, it's essential to know the sun exposures in your yard. Walk around and make note of sun exposures on a sketch. It doesn't have to be fancy, but as you plan changes in the landscape, it will help you match plants with their sun requirements. In particular, note the best locations to site a tree to block intense southern or western sun. Well-sited trees can help you save a bundle on utility bills.

Sow Sunflower Seeds

Sunflowers germinate easily in warm soil temperatures. Keep soil moist until germination occurs. Sow native sunflowers in time to germinate with summer monsoon rains.

Eliminate Breeding Areas for Mosquitoes

Monsoon rains can dump a deluge in minutes, creating mini ponds in shallow depressions in the soil or filling saucers beneath plants. Mosquitoes can breed in the tiniest bit of standing water. Make sure that any natural pools of water on the ground drain quickly (within 24 hours), and lift and empty saucers, containers, or other receptacles.

Fertilizing Roses in Summer

There are varying schools of thought on fertilizing roses in the summer. Some rosarians recommend allowing them to rest during the heat. Others suggest using a slow-release fertilizer at the start of summer. These products usually last about 90 days. Another possibility is to continue feeding every six weeks but use fertilizer at half-strength. Organic fertilizers, such as fish emulsion and alfalfa meal, have a low concentration of nutrients and must break down further in the soil before being absorbed by roots. Both of these characteristics make it unlikely they will cause root burn.

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