Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

April, 2004
Regional Report

Monitor Water Needs

As temperatures rise, plants require more frequent watering. Adjust automatic timers. It isn't necessary to increase the amount of water that is applied; it is necessary to water more frequently. Water should penetrate 1 foot deep for small plants, 2 feet for shrubs, and 3 feet for trees. Use a soil probe to determine how far water soaks. It will move easily through moist soil and stop at dry hard soil. Use the probe an hour or so after watering to give the water a chance to penetrate.

Plant Basil

Basil is a warm-season herb in the low desert, thriving in summer. Transplant or sow seeds into improved garden soil with good drainage. Keep soil consistently moist until seeds germinate. Plant in full sun, or provide protection from afternoon sun.

Fertilize Roses

Apply fertilizer every six weeks until summer heat hits in June. This will help roses through their peak bloom season in spring. Use slow-release fertilizers or products formulated for roses or other blooming plants. If using a granular fertilizer, water in well after application.

Harvest Citrus and Vegetables

Harvest navel, sweet, and pigmented oranges; kumquats, tangelos, and mandarins left on the tree as their season is reaching an end. However, grapefruit and Valencia oranges stay viable on the tree until May. With warm temperatures, cool-season vegetables will start to bolt (go to seed). Some lettuces and greens become bitter, so harvest and share so they don't go to waste.

Maintain Bulbs

Many bulbs are blooming, but with unseasonably hot temperatures they won't last as long. Apply a layer of organic mulch to maintain soil moisture and reduce soil temperatures. Water to a depth of 1 foot. Allow foliage to turn brown and die back naturally as it is storing food in the bulb for next season. Put stakes or markers in the ground to mark the bulbs' locations.


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