Southwestern Deserts

July, 2011
Regional Report

Offer Bird Baths

Don't neglect feathered friends in this heat. Add a feature with running or dripping water. The sound attracts birds, and water in motion stays fresh longer than still water. Place the water feature in front of a window or near a patio area where you can observe birds darting in and out for a quick dip. Also site it in an open area where cats cannot hide beneath shrubs, waiting to pounce.

Sow Okra

Intermingle green and red okra varieties for a colorful display in the garden. Seeds germinate easily in warm soil and plants grow quickly, reaching 4 to 5 feet tall and spreading 2 to 3 feet wide. For maximum tenderness, harvest pods when they are about 3 inches long. Continue harvesting every two to three days and the plants will bear pods until cold weather.

Prevent Citrus Rinds From Cracking

Do your citrus rinds crack when the fruits begin to size up? Cracking is due to irregular irrigation. If citrus is deprived of sufficient moisture, especially in the heat of summer, the rinds become tough. As the fruit expands in size, the rinds are not flexible enough to accommodate growth, so they crack. With each irrigation, water should soak through the entire root zone to a depth of 2 feet for young trees and 3 feet for mature trees. In summer, water trees that have been planted for 1 year every 5-7 days. Trees that have been in the ground 1-2 years should be watered every 7-10 days. Water older trees every 10-14 days.

Control the Spread of Bermudagrass

This warm season grass spreads with underground runners and rhizomes. If you have grass planted near garden beds, it will quickly dive in to the loose moist soil and spread invasively. Deterrents such as a brick barrier are of little use, as the Bermudagrass can dive deep, heading down 12 inches or more to pop up on the other side. If you have grass adjacent to beds, edge it regularly, monitor and immediately dig up any stragglers that cross the line. Do not just yank at it, leaving behind some of the plant, as Bermudagrass can resprout from a tiny bit of shoot! You may want to install a deeper barrier, sinking it 8 to 12 inches into the soil, to halt its spread.

Refresh Mulch

With this summer's crazy windstorms, the mulch you applied at the start of summer is likely covering a garden in the next county. Mulch maintains soil moisture, reduces soil temperatures, inhibits weeds, and reduces erosion. As it decomposes, it adds nutrients to the soil. Refresh as needed so that new transplants, garden beds, and containers have several inches of mulch. If you have time and mulch, add more around mature plants as well.

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