Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

February, 2008
Regional Report

Start Planning

Spring is just around the corner. Think about the gaps in your landscape while perusing plant guides. Make a wish list to take to nurseries and botanical garden sales next month. Knowing what you want will help prevent impulse buys when confronted with so many pretty choices.

Fertilize Citrus

If you did not do so already, feed citrus trees with their first feeding of the year. Apply one-third of a tree's total annual nitrogen requirement. Follow package instructions. As a guideline, young trees that have been in the ground one to two years take 1/4 pound of actual nitrogen annually. Each year, the annual requirement increases 1/4 pound, until a large, mature tree is six or more years old. Its annual requirement is 1.5 pounds of actual nitrogen per year.

Continue Transplanting Tomatoes

As soon as your last frost date is passed, set out tomato transplants. Or set them out a few weeks early, but be prepared to protect from a late freeze. (In the low desert, March 15 is an average last frost date. Check with your local Cooperative Extension, weather station, or gardening club for your date.) Tomato pollen isn't viable over 90 degrees; thus tomato plants in the low desert need a good jumpstart on the season to produce flowers and fruit before summer heat.

Pull New Weeds

Winter weeds are already flowering and setting seed, enhanced by regular rains. Remove weeds ASAP before the seed drops or you'll be subjected to weeds for eons! They are easy to pull when soil is moist.

Use Ripening Citrus

Valencia oranges and all varieties of grapefruit should be sweetening up nicely this month for harvest, as well as Late Lane navels. Most other navels and sweets are finishing up their season, so don't let them go to waste. If you have more fruit than you can use, organize a neighborhood gleaning party and donate it to a food bank. (Some food banks have volunteer gleaners: check with your local services.)


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