Southwestern Deserts

June, 2011
Regional Report

Sow Zinnias

Zinnias are easy to start from seed, relatively easy to grow, and make great cut flowers throughout summer. However, they may suffer from powdery mildew attacks, so when seedlings sprout, thin them according to packet instructions to allow plenty of sun and air circulation, which is an easy cultural method to combat powdery mildew. Also buy seeds for powdery mildew resistant varieties.

Inhibit Squash Vine Borers

The adult stage of the pesky squash vine borer is a highly noticeable orange and black moth. These moths lay single amber/brown eggs on foliage or along stems early in the morning. The eggs hatch into the larval borers that do the damage to vines. If these pests have been a problem in past seasons, try floating row covers to keep the moths at bay for two to three weeks after you first see them. Since they are active in morning, look for any hovering near plants and destroy. Squash any eggs you see. Remove floating row covers when plants are in bloom so bees can pollinate flowers.

Harvest Frequently

Pick your cukes and squash as soon as they reach ready-to-eat size. Don't let them get old and mature on the vine, which stops blossoming and shortens your productive season. If they come on faster than you can eat them, consider donating your extras to a food bank or neighbors.

Plant Veggies

Mid and high elevation desert gardeners should set out eggplant, pepper, and tomato transplants by the first week of June. Provide protection if a late frost is predicted. It could happen!

Adjust Irrigation Timers

Water conservation educators throughout the Southwest recommend adjusting irrigation schedules at least four times annually. If you pay attention to the weather and your plant needs, and garden year around, it pays to adjust even more frequently. Once established, desert plants don't need to be watered as often as many folks think!

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