Southwestern Deserts

May, 2013
Regional Report

Increase Watering Frequency

Adjust timers on irrigation systems. The run times can stay the same, but the frequency should increase. Use the same amount of water to soak to the appropriate depth, but since the soil dries out faster in summer, apply it more often. Water to a depth of one foot for small plants, two feet for shrubs, and three feet for trees.

Control Pearl Scale

If Bermuda lawns have yellow-brown or dead patches, it may be the pearl scale insect. Dig up a chunk of lawn and examine the roots for these teeny white insects that resemble pearls. If you find any, remove all affected grass and dispose of it. Disinfect tools so it doesn't spread to another part of the lawn. There is no one-shot chemical control for this pest.

Plant Colorful Annuals

Sow seeds for sun- and heat-loving annuals such as zinnia, marigold, tithonia, gaillardia, cosmos, portulaca, salvia, and globe amaranth. Keep soil moist until seeds germinate. As seedlings grow, place several inches of mulch on the soil to maintain moisture and to reduce weeds and soil temperatures.

Check for Black Widows

Black widow spiders can be seen during hot summer nights hanging in their rather untidy webs. The females are shiny black, the males creamy white. Both types can be recognized by a red hourglass shape on their bellies. Their bite is venomous, but they usually won't attack unless you threaten them or their eggs. These interesting spiders benefit the garden by eating cockroaches and crickets.

Monitor Tomato Plants

If temperatures are over about 90 degrees F, tomato pollen isn't viable and fruit won't set. Continue to water plants so existing fruit will mature and ripen. If you choose to keep tomato plants alive through the summer to bloom and fruit again in the fall, shade the tops from the hot afternoon sun and cover the root area with a layer of mulch.

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