Southwestern Deserts

May, 2010
Regional Report

Attract Hummingbirds with Spider Webs

Leave a few spider webs intact, especially around patio doors or windows. You will be rewarded with close-up views of hummingbirds, as they hover and snatch up pieces of the web in their beaks. They use the sticky material to construct their nests.

Change Automatic Timers

Temperatures are heating up, and plants need more frequent watering. Remember to apply the same volume of water throughout the year (or let the irrigation run for the same length of time). It is only the frequency of application that changes. Water should penetrate 1 foot deep for small
plants and annuals, 2 feet for shrubs, and 3 feet for trees. The same amount of water will soak to this depth regardless of the temperature. However, in hot weather the plant will use water up faster and the soil will dry out sooner, thus application frequency should increase.

Cover Fruit Trees

Deciduous fruit trees, such as peaches, apricots and apples, are readying for maturity. Cover the trees with bird netting or the fruit will be pecked to pieces. You can also try various things to scare the birds away, such as shiny aluminum strips that flutter in the breeze. Birds tend to get used to these, so try different ones or move them around frequently.

Start Sweet Potato Slips

Go to the grocery store and choose your favorite color sweet potato. Pick one with a "hook" to help you determine which way is up or down. The hook end goes up. Stick toothpicks in the potato to suspend it in water over a quart jar and place it in a sunny location.

Baby plantlets will grow from the potato. When they reach 3 to 5 inches long, remove the toothpicks and let the potato plunge deeper so the stems are under water. Roots will form on them. After roots form, pluck off the plantlets and plant them.

Transplant Cactus

Allow freshly cut pads or sections to dry and callus over before transplanting. Plant in well draining soil, as cactus don't like wet roots. Six to eight inches is usually deep enough. (If planting from a container, dig a hole as deep as the container and twice as wide.) If possible, orient the cactus in the same direction as it was growing to help prevent tissue sunburn. Water immediately and then let dry out before the next watering.

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