Southwestern Deserts

February, 2012
Regional Report

Plant a Rose-Covered Trellis or Arbor

In addition to the well-known 'Lady Banks' that is covered with tiny white or yellow roses, climbers that do well in the low desert include 'Altissimo', 'America', 'Don Juan', 'Dream Weaver', and 'Fourth of July'. Be sure to use a sturdy support.

Monitor for Aphids

Tiny gray, black, or green soft-bodied pests cluster on tender new shoots and suck the sap. Hose them off regularly with a blast of water or pinch them between your fingers. If their population is small and damage to the plant is minimal, leave the aphids to attract beneficial insects such as lady beetles and green lacewings that love to feast on aphids.

Taste-test Citrus

Continue taste-testing citrus that ripens late in the season such as grapefruit and Valencia oranges, which may be harvested into May. Pick only what you need, leaving the rest for another day. Fruit continues to sweeten on the tree and leaving it on the tree is the best method of preserving fruit quality.

Transplant Tomatoes

At low elevations, tomatoes can be set out now, but be sure to monitor for late frosts and protect from cold. An option to combat cold weather is to surround the plant with a Wall-O-Water (or similar), composed of plastic cylinders filled with water. The sun warms the water during the day; at night the heat is released to keep the area around the plant warm. Mid elevations should wait a bit longer to set out tomatoes.

Maintain Lawns Efficiently

Water cool-season ryegrass (used to overseed Bermuda grass) every 5 to 10 days, depending on weather and soil moisture, to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Fertilize monthly. Irrigate dormant (non-overseeded) Bermuda grass once per month to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Do not fertilize because dormant grass cannot absorb the nutrients and the fertilizer will run off, to eventually reach water sources.

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