Southwestern Deserts

September, 2010
Regional Report

Start Seedlings of Cabbage Family Crops Indoors

Grow your own transplants of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale by starting seeds indoors now. After germination, move seedlings to a bright, but shady, outdoor spot and gradually into some morning sun. They'll be ready to transplant into the garden in late September-early October.

Rejuvenate Summer-Blooming Shrubs

Trim back spent blooms on butterfly bush (Buddleja sp.), chaste tree (Vitex sp.) and crape myrtle to promote another late bloom cycle. Cutting back spent blooms stops plants from exerting energy on seed production. Water deeply after trimming.

Enrich Garden Beds

Organic matter practically disappears in desert soils. First, remove any weeds, then spread 4 to 6 inches of compost, manure, or other organic matter on top of beds before fall planting. If using manure, it should be well-aged, 3 to 6 months.

Remove Fruit Tree Suckers

Fruit trees often send up tall, thin sucker shoots from the base of the trunk or watersprouts from the major scaffold branches. These are vigorous upright shoots that are unfruitful and shade out the productive branches in the tree. Remove them as soon as they appear so the tree doesn't waste energy on them before setting buds for next year's crop.

Feed Citrus

Fertilize citrus with one-third of its annual total nitrogen requirement. Water in immediately. Citrus fruit split may appear now. It is likely caused by insufficient watering earlier in the season, which creates tough rinds that cannot expand as the fruit grows larger. There is no way to fix the problem. Remember to always water deeply (3 feet) through the entire root zone, and out to the edge of its canopy.

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