Southwestern Deserts

September, 2012
Regional Report

Examine Plants Before Purchase

When plant shopping, examine the undersides of foliage and along the stems for signs of pests, such as whiteflies. Adults leave pinprick-sized yellow spots where they suck plant juices. If hitching a ride home on your new purchases, whiteflies will easily spread to your other plants. Adult whiteflies are teensy and difficult to see unless they are present in great numbers. However, gently tapping the plant will cause the adults to rise up and fly around, so you can see them. The round, immature scale form of this insect is not mobile and stays attached to the undersides of leaves.

Fertilize to Keep Summer Vegetables Producing

Prolific summer veggies, such as squash, may need a late application of fertilizing to keep producing while weather remains warm. Use a complete fertilizer, with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Scratch granular fertilizers into the soil around the plant and water deeply immediately after.

Prune and Feed Roses

When temperatures remain below 100 for several days, it's safe to lightly trim roses in preparation for their second bloom period. Remove dead or crossing canes at their point of origin. Cut back no more than one-quarter of the plant stems and foliage. In the low desert, major rose pruning occurs in January, in preparation for spring bloom. Rake up leaf litter that may contain disease spores, such as powdery mildew. Apply fresh mulch. Feed with a slow-release, granular fertilizer. Water thoroughly to a depth of about two feet for mature roses.

Prepare Fall Garden Beds

Spread 4 to 6 inches of compost or well-aged manure on top of vegetable and flower beds. Add fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphorus according to package instructions. If drainage is a problem, soil sulfur or gypsum also can be added. Dig it all in to a depth of 12 to 18 inches. Water and let any weed seeds germinate before planting.

Recycle Newspapers as Paths

Spread a thick layer of newspapers on bare garden paths. Weight down with grass clippings, leaves, bark chips, or similar. The layer will inhibit weed seeds from sprouting. Over time, it will break down, adding organic matter to the soil, so refresh the layers as needed to keep weeds at bay.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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