Southwestern Deserts

January, 2010
Regional Report

Start A New Christmas Cactus

When your plant finishes blooming, break off a healthy stem with four or five sections. Plant in a pot of loose moistened potting soil. Cover with a plastic bag secured around the pot with a rubber band. Set it in a bright window but out of direct sunlight. Your cutting should be rooted in three to four weeks.

Water and Thin Wildflowers

If winter rains are inadequate, soak wildflower seedlings slowly, about once every 10 to 14 days, depending on needs. Don't overwater, which will promote root rot. Lay a hose on the soil and let it drip slowly rather than sprinkling from above, which may knock the tender seedlings over. Also, salty water leaves behind salt residue on foliage as it dries.

Manage Weeds

"Manage" means yank 'em out! After rain, winter weeds are quick to sprout. Pull or hoe while they are tiny and easy to destroy. Throw them in the compost pile as a good source of nitrogen, or leave them on the ground where they will quickly decompose.

Harvest Citrus

Taste-test for sweetness because rind color is not a reliable indicator. The fruit may be sweet even though the rind is still green. When the temperature is cold enough, rinds start turning from green to yellow or green to orange, depending on the fruit. Don't let fruit to go waste. Donate to food banks. If you can't pick the fruit yourself, call food banks and similar organizations to ask if they have volunteers who will harvest and donate it to food banks on your behalf.

Plant Bare-root Roses

Some nurseries will pot up their bareroots; others wrap the root system in damp peat moss or sawdust. Keep the roots moist until you plant. Plunge the entire plant in a bucket of water and let it soak 8 to 24 hours before planting. Plant where they receive at least 6 hours of full sun daily. Protection from hot afternoon sun is best.

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