Southwestern Deserts

February, 2012
Regional Report

Harvest Your Greens

Enjoy cool-season greens before they start bolting and turning bitter with warming weather. Kale and bok choy don%%%t turn bitter, although their leaves become sparse and stems tough.

Let Ladybeetles Do Your Chores

When aphids appear, don%%%t spray pesticides that indiscriminately kill beneficial predators such as ladybeetles. Adult ladybeetles eat some aphids, although their larvae are truly voracious aphid eaters. If aphid populations seem to be getting out of hand, knock them back with strong blasts of water from the hose.

Transplant Tomatoes

If you garden at low desert elevations, and haven%%%t gotten around to transplanting tomato seedlings, get them in the ground ASAP, or it will be too late for them to establish and bear fruit before summer heat. If you are at mid-elevations, transplant now and protect from late freezes.

Feed Roses

Roses are beginning to pop in the low desert, gearing up for their major bloom season in April. Continue feeding every six weeks (unless you use a slow-release fertilizer product) to sustain them during this burst of energy. If you prefer organic sources, work cottonseed, alfalfa or blood meal (nitrogen) and bone meal (phosphorus) into the top few inches of soil and water deeply. Also spread several inches of compost around shrubs. As it breaks down, it will supply nutrients to the soil.

Transplant Landscape Plants

When digging holes, loosen soil 3 to 5 times as wide as the root ball or container, but only as deep. This allows roots to easily spread outwards to seek water and nutrients in the loose soil, while preventing the plant from sinking into the hole with repeated watering.

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