Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

March, 2001
Regional Report

Bermuda Grass Care

Starting now, apply a 21-7-14 fertilizer at a rate of 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet to your Bermuda grass lawn once every month, whether or not you overseeded with ryegrass. Water lawns before and after applying the fertilizer. Overseeded lawns should be watered every 3 to 5 days and non-overseeded lawns every 5 to 7 days, depending on soil and weather conditions.

Propagate Cacti and Succulents

Divide overgrown clumps of aloe. Cut pads off of opuntia cacti, such as prickly pear, and cut sections off of cholla. Make a clean cut with a sharp tool at the joint. (Use a pair of cooking tongs to hold the pad while you make the cut.) Replant pads in cactus soil so that one-quarter to one-third is below the ground. They will root and start growing new pads quite easily.

Thin Deciduous Fruit

Peach, apricot, and apple trees will set far more fruits than the tree can support to maturity. As soon as fruit sets, thin the excess to a 6- to 8-inch spacing with pruners. The remaining fruit will be larger as the tree puts more energy into it. Water fruit trees deeply to a depth of 3 feet and out past the canopy.

Tomato Care

Tomato plants are beginning to flower. Lightly tap plants early in the morning to aid pollination. All it takes is a small movement for tomato pollen to pollinate a flower. If you've had curly top virus on tomatoes in previous years, cover the plants with a floating row cover to keep leafhoppers from feeding on them and spreading the disease. Although they could get beneath the row cover, leafhoppers don't like shade and should move elsewhere.

Fertilize Roses

Rose bushes will begin their peak bloom season next month, so keep them well fed. First, add a 2-inch layer of compost around them. Then apply a chemical rose fertilizer or organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion for nitrogen and bone meal for phosphorus. Avoid fertilizers that are high in potassium, as desert soils have plenty of potassium and rarely need it.


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